Despite the trade restrictions in place to decrease the spread of the deadly respiratory disease, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has seen a 20% increase in drug trafficking shipments bound for Europe this year compared to the same period last year, senior law enforcement officer Bob Van Den Berghe told Reuters.
Coronavirus may be making it hard to get everyday products, but Europeans are still getting their cocaine— just in refrigerators of squid, pizza boxes, and even shipments of face masks. But Latin American drug cartels are still having to get creative with their shipments: One lined a refrigerated container transporting squids to Antwerp, Belgium, with five-tons of cocaine worth nearly 205 million euros worth of narcotics, according to officials.
Belgium isn’t the only country that smugglers are sneaking their drugs into in new ways. Officials in England found 14 kilograms of cocaine, worth nearly 1.3 million pounds, hidden in a shipment of coronavirus face masks coming from Poland in April. The International Criminal Police Organization also told Reuters that Spain, the U.K., Ireland and Malaysia have all reported food delivery drivers have become a major pipeline for drug smuggling. In Ireland, for example, police found 17 pounds of cocaine and several handguns in pizza boxes earlier this month.
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