Coronavirus has smashed drug smuggling supply chains to Australia, potentially leaving organised crime groups in debt and vulnerable.
Coronavirus has smashed drug smuggling supply chains to Australia, potentially leaving organised crime groups in debt and vulnerable.

Cocaine, MDMA supply hit as coronavirus busts drug cartels

Coronavirus has in weeks done what the Australian Federal Police and state counterparts have fought years to do.

It has smashed drug smuggling supply chains, created debts and friction for organised crime groups and is set to create desperate toilet roll-type demand for users of cocaine and MDMA.

Late last year the AFP and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission noted an increase on an old trend of Mexican cartels standing over families to force them to act as drug mules to Australia.

The rate of busts were up but so too the number of cases before the courts citing reluctant South Americans posing as tourists to make drug runs, under duress by cartels threatening their families.

The grounding of planes around the world hasn’t just impacted legitimate businesses. Picture: Christian Gilles
The grounding of planes around the world hasn’t just impacted legitimate businesses. Picture: Christian Gilles

 

But the AFP has now noted coronavirus international passenger movement restrictions has put paid to that but also disrupted larger scale supply chain movement of precursor drug chemicals, their storage, manufacture and shipment to our shores.

And more critically it could send cartels in debt with payments made and no returns for suppliers and distributors.

"These are the things we are thinking," AFP Assistant Commissioner (crime command) Peter Crozier told True Crime Australia.

"What's now hitting some of these organised crime groups is their money making ventures, some of them have potentially created debts as a result of them looking to move commodities which they now can't do. They are potentially vulnerable."

 

Australian Assistant Commissioner Peter Crozier. Picture: Supplied
Australian Assistant Commissioner Peter Crozier. Picture: Supplied

Mr Crozier said coronavirus travel restrictions would also hamper face-to-face meetings between crime bosses who won't use phones, and that would limit their illicit markets capacity.

Some Aussie crime bosses who work overseas could also see their legitimate businesses here suffer if they are quarantined overseas.

"Each of these things present an opportunity for us I think measure the impact and effect. Is it the case we know about a significant amount coming in from overseas, how is that going to play out, are they going to rely on the domestic market to actually supply and meet that demand? These are the things we have to now take on board."

 

Coronavirus is disrupting the international drug trade in a way even major seizures by police couldn’t. Picture: AAP
Coronavirus is disrupting the international drug trade in a way even major seizures by police couldn’t. Picture: AAP

 

He said the effective pause would allow the AFP to analyse organised crime and better target their capabilities more effectively.

"As their markets constrict and their capacity to get their products out, they will look to new and inventive ways of doing that so for us it is about getting in front of it and seeing how we can (tackle) that," he said.

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