Educated, ethical, vegan… the PC cocaine users fuelling London’s murder spree

Everyone seems to be queuing for something — a new restaurant or a new microbrewery.

Inside the club, hipster students, bearded professionals and wealthy tourists fill the dancefloor.

I easily spot the drug dealers weaving in and out of the throng, full of determination.

Conspicuous, too, is the queue of clubbers waiting for the toilet.

I feel a tap on my shoulder. “Mate, need any gear?”

I glance down to a hand clutching a bag of powder. I tell him I’ll pass.

He doesn’t look disappointed — business is good.

Two miles up the road in Hackney, there were several more stabbings last week.

The number of Londoners killed by violent crime this year is 62 — 37 of whom have been stabbed.

Crisis levels. Most of the victims are young, black and at least peripherally connected to gangs who make their money selling and trafficking drugs.

The capital’s appetite for drugs, especially cocaine, has more than a small role to play in the deaths of these kids.

Yet it is rarely asked: Who’s buying the cocaine that fuels the drug wars?

The answer is, exactly the sort of British men and women who pride themselves on being more ethical than previous generations.

More than four per cent of all 15 to 34-year-olds in the UK confess to using cocaine in the past year, twice as many as in the rest of Europe. And that’s just those who admit it.

To get the true measure, you need only look at the sewers.

In figures from 2016, London had the second-highest level of wastewater cocaine residue in Europe, at 900mg per 1,000 people, way above third-placed Barcelona and just behind Antwerp.

The Home Office estimates the illegal drugs market to be worth £5.3billion.

Last month, three dealers were jailed for transporting £4.5million of cocaine across London in a holdall.

According to the Global Drug Survey, the drug can be delivered to a Londoner faster than a pizza, with a third of users able to get it within half an hour.

Frequent users can even use a cocaine loyalty card — “buy five and get a sixth free”.

This is a product marketed and distributed with professionalism.

Buying cocaine is the easiest it has ever been — 34 per cent of buyers get it through friends and 48 per cent from known and trusted dealers.

Hospitals are feeling the effects.

Last year there were 12,000 admissions for “mental and behavioural disorders due to use of cocaine”, more than double the figure ten years ago.

It shows our capital has a cocaine problem rising in step with the knife-crime epidemic.

Young professionals are contributing directly to the culture that leaves black kids dead.

What’s strange is that they understand the problem. They’re educated.

They grew up in the wake of the Colombian cocaine boom that devastated cities such as Bogota and Medellin.

More often than not they’ve travelled widely and think of themselves as defenders of human rights.


  • It takes 370kg of coca leaves and two acres of land to produce just 1kg of coke


  • The Incas originally believed coca leaves were a gift from the gods


  • Cocaine was first used as an anaesthetic in the 1880s for eye, nose & throat ops


  • The drug can be delivered to a Londoner faster than a pizza, often within 30mins


They buy fair-trade coffee and agonise over the conditions animals are kept in.

They don’t wear fur. Sometimes they’re fashionably, and loudly, vegan.

But a gram of coke is as essential to a night out as a selfie in the loos.

Yet gang culture is an issue greeted with silence by the fair-trade generation.

The killing of black boys fails to make the grade as a popular issue.

Perhaps it’s because to crack down on crime you’d need to support the police and that’s not likely.

Perhaps it’s because we’re not used to depriving ourselves of things we want.

It’s also because cocaine is gentrified.

Sheltered middle-class users are drawn to the convenience and dis-cretion of its delivery using encrypted social media and the dark web, a far cry from the day of the shady alleyway dealer.

Dealers are now more likely to be middle-class and presentable, so the user never comes into contact with a gang member from an estate.

The slick means of getting cocaine from dealer to customer has sanitised drug-taking, shelter-ing the middle classes from the unpleasantries involved.

“I just didn’t make the connection,” a friend tells me, keen to stress his newly reformed character.

“Coke is just like drinking alcohol on a night out.

“A friend of a friend might be selling it, raving about how good his batch is. Which is funny — we’re not interested in how the drugs come to be in our possession but really care about their purity. We’ve become connoisseurs.”

I confront another friend on the subject, who replies: “That’s why I stopped. Ultimately, there isn’t a way to use coke ethically, but many of us aren’t willing to give it up so justify it by thinking, “My dealer is a nice guy” or, “Well, gangs would still exist’.”

It’s illogical because it’s selfish. It’s amazing — our capacity to stop caring just in order to have a good time.

  • This article appears in the current edition of The Spectator

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