Drug trafficking, homicide and organized crime – Changes brought around by COVID-19
COVID-19 crisis has brought life altering course to everyone, including the drug world and organized crime. As true to everyone, this section of society is too adapting to the situation, making a good course of it for future, in a way as lucrative as possible.
Before the lockdown was announced across the countries, there was a notable hike in drug purchase, a “panic buying” of cocaine, heroin and marijuana. Drugs were the new “toilet rolls” with massive splurge, people buying at as high the price as was quoted. The drug networks witnessed abrupt closing of business due to lockdown. As a ripple effect there was a significant drop in homicide cases related to drug dealing.
There was a sharp price hike registered for cocaine and heroin due to low stock assumption related to cross-border drug trafficking ceasing. The people were reportedly paying more for cocaine due to low stock and high demand.
In contrast, marijuana sales have been largely unaffected in the UK. People have been buying more weed with notable increase in dark web sales of marijuana. Synthetic drugs like ecstasy and MDMA can be synthesized in local laboratories leading to brisk business for their vendors, mainly in the UK and Netherlands.
Impact on Organized crime
The closing of many cash-based businesses has led to the drop in activity of organized crime groups or OCGs. There has also been a drop in their money laundering activities due to this, making it harder for the criminals to hide their illegal money.
Criminal activities and homicides related to drug dealing has also experienced a dip. Criminals are too abiding by the lockdown rules.
Splurge in online crime rate
The physical crime rates though have fallen, there has been a considerable spike in web-based crime instances. The main adjustment by the illegal activities was to take the business online when shift of working trend everywhere has been towards home IT system, which definitely isn’t as secure as at the office premises.
Almost 70,000 scamming sites have popped up related to Covid-19. These scam sites are mainly related to the sale of protective gear, sanitizers, etc. to snake-oil remedies. These are either stolen or counterfeited items, which make them the best items to scam people who are anxiously trying to protect themselves from virus any way possible.
Two faced sword for the law enforcements
The drop in drug trafficking across borders post lockdown was a sigh of relief for law enforcements across the nations – but it was temporary, as expected. The criminal groups have quickly adapted to the changing times and found alternate possibilities.
The political drama along with slashed economies are providing the perfect opportunity to drug mafias and criminal groups. Slathered supply and demand chain has led to eruption of fake and counterfeited items in the black market, causing dizzying scenario to handle for the police and law enforcements.
The other catalyst to this situation is the limited police resource available. As the police authorities are busy enabling lockdown measures across nations, the criminals are taking advantage of this situation working up their network of counterfeit market and filling up the vacuum in supply-demand chain.
Trafficking of endangered species
The recent curbs in drug dealing and money laundering has led to rise in trafficking of wildlife mainly involving endangered species. Pangolins are being supplied in the Chinese markets for their scaled skin which is used in traditional Chinese medicine. Pangolin skin along with rhino horn, tiger bones and ivory bones have been confiscated by authorities around China, Laos and Vietnam.
Reports of UNODC
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime highlight the reduced homicide, violence and gang crimes due to Covid-19 lockdown implementation around the globe.
Movement restrictions cross-border have disrupted the drug trafficking market of heroin more than cocaine. The difference is due to the mode of transportation of these drugs. While heroin is mostly transported through land, its trafficking is affected more as compared to cocaine which is mainly supplied through sea routes.
The drug dealing and related criminal activities are fully blooming under the radar and, at the moment might be difficult to take control over by law enforcements.