Narco-submarines, torpedoes and squid: How drug cartels are adapting to coronavirus lockdowns worldwide

Luke Taylor in Bogota reports on the challenges drug traffickers face from the Covid-19 pandemic, and the innovative solutions some have found to get around them

Saturday 13 June 2020 19:54
Comments
The volume of drugs seized this year is significantly down on the same period last year, as traffickers stockpile supplies waiting for lockdowns to end
The volume of drugs seized this year is significantly down on the same period last year, as traffickers stockpile supplies waiting for lockdowns to end

Prying open a container in the port of Antwerp, Belgian customs officers were sure they were about to uncover a massive drugs bust: five tonnes of cocaine from South America was supposed to be inside. But when they pried it open, all they found was a pile of squid.

The flummoxed officials discovered the cartels had been one step ahead, swapping out the illicit cargo upon arrival at port and before it could be checked by customs. While the officers realised what happened and got the drugs in the end, the bizarre episode shows the lengths and ingenuity that cartels will go to in order to keep the $85bn (£68bn) cocaine trade alive during global lockdowns.

Anti-narcotics police have foiled various novel schemes in recent months intended to overcome the challenges posed by lockdowns – or take advantage of them.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in