Pandemic leading to illegal drug shortages: UN report
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The wide-ranging disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic and its associated lockdowns are leading to shortages of illegal drugs in some countries, according to a UN report released Thursday.
The report warns that particularly in the case of heroin, shortages could lead to the use of “harmful domestically-produced substances” instead.
Wider consequences of drug shortages could include “injecting drug use and the sharing of injecting equipment and other drug paraphernalia,” thereby increasing the risk of transmitting blood-borne diseases.
“Reports emerging from different countries point to a shortage of drugs among end-consumers caused by reduction in imports of drugs and/or by strict lockdown measures,” the report from the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says, “with reports of heroin shortages in Europe, South-West Asia and North America in particular”.
The report says that the impact of the pandemic and the various measures taken to combat it on illicit drug supply chains has been mixed, with trafficking routes by air being disrupted.
Land routes have also seen “drastic” reductions and increased interception.
The report says that in the case of heroin, “a recent uptick in heroin seizures in the Indian Ocean could be interpreted as indication of an increase in the use of maritime routes for trafficking” towards Europe.
As for cocaine, the report says “there are indications that the reduction in air traffic to Europe resulting from the COVID-19 measures may already have led to an increase in direct cocaine shipments by sea cargo from South America to Europe”.
However, it said that trafficking of cannabis was unlikely to be affected in the same way as cocaine or heroin “given that its production often takes place near consumer markets”. (AFP)