Coronavirus lockdown is hard for everyone, but let’s for a second spare a thought for all the local drug dealers, whose livelihoods pretty much depend on driving around to other people’s houses or doing stealthy handshake-baggy-exchanges on high streets.
In an attempt to avoid this, dealers are coming up with inventive disguises to evade the watchful eyes of the police. According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), drug dealers are dressing up in hi-vis workwear and claiming to be couriers and bin men. They’re also dealing from supermarkets while pretending to stockpile toilet roll.
“We know that some groups are finding it harder to transport their commodities and are adapting their methods,” the NCA’s director general, Lynne Owens, said at a press conference this week (April 15). “Intelligence indicates that they are seeking to deal drugs in supermarket car parks, and to portray themselves as key workers to prevent being stopped by police.”
The coronavirus has also made it harder to smuggle drugs into the UK. On Tuesday (April 14), a driver was stopped as he tried to enter the Channel Tunnel, and was found to have 14kg of cocaine – worth £1 million – hidden in a consignment of face masks.
“It is evidence of how groups are changing their behaviour,” said Owens. “There are fewer drugs in the UK and prices are rising.”
Back in March, a report warned that the coronavirus pandemic could increase gang violence in the UK as drug dealers compete over a shrinking market. “The risk with an increase in gang violence over the coming months is that stabbings in particular so often require intensive care treatment,” said former Metropolitan Police officer Richard Walton. “Hospitals must be spared this extra strain on their resources as they cope with the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.”