As the Mexican government concentrate its resources on pandemic control, with the peak of COVID-19 expected in May, criminal groups continue to position themselves so as to strengthen their control and influence within the states, cities and regions they operate in.
The COVID-19 pandemic in Peru has hit the cocaine trade in Peru. Cocaine prices have sharply decreased because of the impact of lock-down on the traffickers’ ability to transport drugs. The department of Ucayali however seems to be the Peruvian exception. Bordering both Bolivia and Brazil, cocaine seizures in this remote jungle region have increased over the past few weeks confirming its key cross-border regional trafficking status.
Turkish authorities seized almost 115 kg of heroin in the south-eastern province of Hakkari, two suspects remain at large.
The effects of the Coronavirus have made It more difficult for traffickers to move drugs from producing countries, through transit countries, into consuming countries. As a consequence, the price for coca leaves has dropped significantly whilst the wholesale price has, because of it’s scarcity, increased. For some other drugs, like methamphetamines, the price has tripled over the past few weeks, not only because of the difficulties in moving the product, but also because importing the chemicals and materials needed for manufacture has become equally difficult.
The production of heroin and cocaine has remained stable whilst the production of fentanyl and methamphetamines, in Mexico and southeast Asia, has been affected by the shortage of available Chinese chemical precursors. Organised crime groups are responding by adapting their products to reflect a decrease in purity levels and from a business perspective they are concentrating on other easy to manufacture drugs, that do not require international supply chains. Traffickers are aware of increased security at borders and are identifying less secure environments to facilitate border crossing. Prior to the global pandemic less than 2% of global shipping containers were checked however despite a decline in global trade, that figure remains constant and is not set to increase. Tighter and stricter border controls may see criminals looking to corrupt more port officials, so as to enable consignments to pass through controls without scrutiny and look to alternative marketing and distribution methodology, for example the dark web and other on-line mechanisms. The overall impact of COVID-19 on drug-users is yet to be established and the associated effect of national harm reduction strategies is not yet known however reporting indicates that traffickers and users have adapted well so as to sustain demand and supply levels.
The UK police have seized 190kg of cocaine at the port of Dover as a result of searching searching two trucks. Three persons were known to be arrested and at this time one person has been charged with importing cocaine.
A newly released report of the C4ADS organisations on wildlife trafficking suggests that wildlife trafficking in the air transport sector is rising. Traffickers are known to be using the same methods that are used to traffic other kinds of illicit goods.