The illegal drug trade in Europe adapted to travel restrictions and border closures caused by the pandemic by increasing online sales, according to a new report.
Drug sellers and buyers adjusted to pandemic-related changes by increasing their use of encrypted messaging services, social media apps, online sources and mail and home delivery services, according to the European Drug Report 2021. The report was produced by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
“The pandemic is pushing drug criminals online, reinforcing a trend,” said European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.
The report found that during the pandemic, there was no decline in the amount of cocaine available, and more people grew cannabis at home, Reuters reports. The shift to online sales made it easier for drug dealers to recruit young people, and to move from cities to rural areas.