| 18.9°C Dublin

Crime gangs using food delivery services to transport drugs during coronavirus pandemic, gardai warn

Close

Drug dealing. Stock image

Drug dealing. Stock image

Drug dealing. Stock image

Gardai have issued a warning that organised crime gangs are using food delivery services to transport drugs during the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The warning has been sent out in tandem with a similar Interpol alert, based on intelligence supplied by the Garda and police in the UK, Malaysia and Spain.

Officers from the Garda national drugs and organised crime bureau seized cocaine with an estimated street value of €2.5m after stopping and searching trucks, carrying food products, in the Blakes Cross area of north county Dublin last weekend.

The seizure was made following an intelligence-led operation.

Earlier this month, garda road policing officers recovered two guns and a large quantity of cocaine, hidden in pizza boxes, after pursuing a car that had driven through a Covid-19 checkpoint at Phibsboro Road in Dublin

After the car was brought to a halt when it crashed into a wall at Essex Quay, the cocaine, which had an initial value of €500,000 subject to analysis, was found in pizza boxes while a subsequent search of the river Liffey by members of the garda water unit led to the recovery of the two handguns.

In a statement issued worldwide today, Interpol said it had received reports identifying delivery drivers transporting drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, ketamine and ecstasy.

It said country-wide lockdowns had sharply increased demand for home delivered food and delivery drivers were “a common sight on otherwise deserted streets”.

Interpol said delivery drivers could be complicit or unwitting links in drugs transportation.

“In cases brought to Interpol’s attention, suspects are sometimes falsely disguised as food delivery drivers. At other times, legitimate food delivery drivers knowingly and willingly delivered drugs on behalf of criminal organisations for financial gain.

“Legitimate food delivery drivers have also been used as unwitting drug mules”, the international police agency added.

Interpol said that in one Malaysian case, a food delivery driver in the Gombak district of Kuala Lumpur had contacted police and asked for his food package to be inspected after he became suspicious.

The rider had been tasked with delivering a single order of Indian flatbread but the parcel weighed about eleven kilograms.

The Spanish national police identified and arrested seven people, dressed as food delivery drivers in Alicante and Valencia.

The suspects were caught delivering cocaine and marijuana by bicycle, motorcycle and car. Some of the drugs had been concealed inside a false bottom of home delivery backpacks.

Based on the incidents that had taken place in Ireland, the UK, Spain and Malaysia, Interpol said it was issuing a “purple notice” alerting its 194 member countries to this new modus operandi.

Purple notices provide information on objects, devices and concealment methods used by criminals and this can be accessed by law enforcement organisations through Interpol’s secure communications channel.

Stephen Kavanagh, Interpol’s executive director of police services, said today: “As criminals continue to adapt their activities to a world upended by Covid-19, Interpol’s purple notices are essential tools in enabling police around the world to learn from each other’s successes and address shifting crime patterns”.

Online Editors