An international anti-drug trafficking agency said there has been "a surge of activity" during the pandemic in the amount of drugs being imported into Europe.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, the Executive Director of the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre, said the organisation has intercepted over €1 billion worth of cocaine since St Patrick's Day until now.

Michael O'Sullivan said during one 48-hour period, while working with the Spanish authorities, they intercepted four different vessels.

He said "cocaine is the fuel that runs a lot of criminal gangs".

Mr O'Sullivan said two years ago, the cocaine market was estimated to be worth €10 billion, and he said it's probably closer to €13 billion at the moment.

His comments come as a new report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) found that Ireland now has the third highest number of drug-related deaths after Sweden and the UK.

It found that cocaine has become the second most common drug used here.