Although illegal, drug trafficking is a business that has the same obligations to adapt to the limitations of the health crisis as the legal sectors of activity. In any case, this is what a survey conducted in the UK shows, where an increase in online purchases has been observed during the first of three blockades the country has experienced in a year. The study conducted online between April 9 and September 17, 2020 received 2,621 responses.
It appears that cannabis accounted for 70% of purchases, compared to 9% for cocaine. Drug users reported by 43% have seen their consumption increase during the first confinement and 21% decreased. It remained stable in 36% of the people who participated in the survey.
“At the beginning of the lockdown, many thought that the drug market would be seriously affected by the closing of borders and the order to stay at home,” says Judith Alrdige, lead author of the study. But “most users had no trouble finding a supplier or the narcotic product they were looking for.” Because providers have adapted by offering their services online, on daknet, the hidden and unreferred part of the Internet.
Merchants who respect sanitary measures
On the other hand, difficulties in this regard arose during the relaxation and lifting of the confinement, where price increases have been reported, which seems to reflect “supply difficulties that are beginning to affect the market”, emphasizes Judith Alrdige. One in ten shoppers said they shop on the darknet, a shopping method that 13% of them said they were using for the first time.
And although outlawed against drug trafficking, drug traffickers have apparently been very careful in enforcing sanitary measures. It also appears that the majority of the distributors applied the distancing measures. “We have also seen distributors adopt measures similar to those taken by legal companies to prevent transmission of the virus,” said Laura Garius, co-author of the study. Some accepted PayPal transfers or payments, while others sanitized money.
So during the first confinement, 62% of distributors observed distancing38% wore gloves, 31% a mask, and 30% wore separate packaging. More worryingly, this study shows that confinement has also seen an increase in overdoses, exchange of injection syringes, and difficulties with withdrawal.