Drug dealers are using food-delivery services as a cover to get their product to their customers, as the coronavirus pandemic and the uptick in the use of such services provides the perfect opportunity to ply their trade with minimal suspicion.
As The Guardian reports, it's a common scene in cities across the world: with restaurants closed and customers hunkered down in their homes, the streets are filled with cars, bicycles, and walkers, delivering food to their hungry patrons.
"Country-wide lockdowns have sharply increased demand for home delivered food and delivery drivers are a common sight on otherwise deserted streets," says international policing organization INTERPOL.
And the agency reports that this has given drug dealers a perfect cover for delivering their own product. Rather than risk suspicion by conducting their deals on street corners, from drug houses, or delivering it themselves, dealers simply employ food-delivery workers as unwitting "mules," or in some cases, disguise themselves as food delivery drivers.
The problem is so bad that the organization has issued a so-called "purple notice" to its 194 member agencies, warning of the practice, which has been observed in Spain, Malaysia, Ireland, and Great Britain so far. Dealers have been caught using the mules to deliver marijuana, ketamine, cocaine, and ecstasy, among others.
"In one Malaysian case, a food delivery rider in the Gombak district of Kuala Lumpur contacted police and asked for his food package to be inspected after he became suspicious," INTERPOL said.
The driver had been scheduled to deliver a single package of Indian flatbread. But he began to suspect something was amiss when the package weighed well over 20 pounds.
Some dealers are skipping the employment of mules to simply deliver the goods themselves, disguising themselves as delivery drivers and using food packaging as a decoy.
For example, in one case in Ireland, a "delivery driver" was arrested for carrying about 17.6 pounds of cocaine and two handguns in pizza delivery boxes.
And in Spain, seven alleged drug dealers impersonating delivery drivers were arrested after their home delivery backpacks were found to contain false bottoms, with drugs inside.
As of this writing, there appear to be no such cases in the U.S.
Indeed, as previously reported by The Inquisitr, the coronavirus pandemic seems to be hitting drug dealers particularly hard. With customers lacking money to pay for their product, and with street-corner dealers sticking out during a lockdown, drug-related crimes have decreased significantly in Chicago, says an attorney in the city.