Cocaine is becoming cheaper and more common in Sweden, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of deaths related to the drug, according to a new investigation.

The study, by journalists from Swedish state broadcaster SVT and four regional publications, indicates that cocaine use in Sweden has reached record levels, raising further questions over the country’s zero tolerance drugs policy. 

Before 2012, police made fewer than 1,000 drug busts involving cocaine, whereas that figure rose to 3,700 in 2018, according to the study on the usage and impact of cocaine. Customs busts involving cocaine have also increased from below 100 before 2012 to around 300 in recent years.

The drug has also led to more deaths: in 2018, cocaine was judged to be the cause of death in 20 cases, compared to just one case per year some years ago, according to the Swedish Forensic Medicine Agency (Rättsmedicinalverket). And cocaine was present in 104 autopsies, the same agency said, a ten-fold increase since 2011.

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