Zollfahndungsamt Hamburg/Handout via ReutersLike supermarkets, restaurants and purveyors of sourdough bread, the illegal drugs trade went digital to serve its customers during lockdown, and could stay that way when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, Europe's drugs agency said on Wednesday.
"The pandemic is pushing drug criminals online, reinforcing a trend," said the European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson during the online launch of the 2021 drugs report put together by the Lisbon-based agency EMCDDA.
"Drug dealers are moving from the streets onto social media, taking orders via encrypted messaging services, sending drugs to customers via home delivering services."
The pandemic has forced changes to every level of the drugs trade, from wholesale traffickers and smugglers to neighbourhood dealers.
The trade proved resilient, with data showing no decline in the amount of cocaine available, while more people were growing cannabis at home.
Zollfahndungsamt, Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, Alexis Goosdeel, Goosdeel
Reuters, Home Affairs, Thomson
Zollfahndungsamt Hamburg, Hamburg, Handout, Lisbon