COVID-19 has got everyone out of the box.
Countries remain in lockdown,
Hospitals are running out of beds,
And PPE stocks are diminishing quickly.
Worst still, no one really knows when it’s all going to end.
But are we forgetting who the real victims are in this crisis..?
The drug dealers!
Do you know how hard it is to find drugs at the moment?
And with everyone staying at home, it’s even harder for local junkies to find a house to break into!
Jeez. When is all going to end?
Local drug dealers just want everything to go back to normal.
But, this COVID-19 crisis provides some unique opportunities for criminal intelligence analysts and police.
Here, in a strange post, are my thoughts on Intelligence Opportunities provided by the COVID-19 crisis.
Seven ways Criminal Intelligence Professionals can Capitalise on the COIVD-19 Crisis:
**Look, I know it’s macabre and I’m sorry if you’re affected, but if you work in the Intelligence biz, you’ll know it’s important to capitalise on opportunities when you get’em.
…and drugs kill also.
#1. Increased ability to get covert police or undercover agents into criminal syndicates.
Goes without saying, but the vetting process and assess restrictions to organised criminal groups are likely to be just as affected as the rest of us.
Police and criminal intelligence could capitalise by developing relationships through online contact, social networks, and group chats which might have less restrictive screening and vetting given the current climate.
#2. Opportunity to focus on alternative trafficking methods
Ok, so people can’t meet right? So how do you get your drugs in or move them around?
I’m thinking through the postal service, and / or via freight…
Police and criminal intelligence should focus resources and attention on key movement / trafficking methods.
International post is likely to be one of the most likely importation methods in this current climate.
(hot tip: look for the packages with no return address…;0)
#3. Opportunities to interdict large stockpiles of drugs
It’s widely reported that large amounts of drugs are manufactured in backwater parts of Asia and the Middle East (ie. Golden Triangle or Badlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan).
I expect drug production is likely to continue while the ability to export and move drugs is limited.
This provides an opportunity for agencies with international reach to interdict and disrupt larger than average production lines.
BLUF: Target the well known international syndicates offshore before wholesale importation resumes!
#4. Old cooks and professionals
Given the reduction in the ability to traffic drugs domestically – old drug cooks are likely to be recruited back into the game.
Criminal task forces should pay particular attention to those they know to be proficient with the manufacture of drugs as demand is likely to entice cooks to return to the kitchen.
#5. Same for precursors
Without the ability to import and move drugs as easily, the demand to make / manufacture drugs is likely to increase in domestic markets.
The cost for precursor chemicals is likely to increase the risk to pharmacies.
And Criminals are likely to make shittier versions of drugs also.
Precursors for fentanyl etc and other cheap drugs are also likely to be in higher demand.
Monitoring the price of precursor chemicals will provide intelligence about the demand and risk to the community.
#6. Online Sales
With more people at home, online drug dealing is likely to increase.
Low-level criminals are likely to use FB Messenger, WhatsApp, or Signal for ‘street-level dealing’.
Enterprise set-ups are likely to see greater traffic on Tor.
Tech Savvy Police and Intelligence could capitalise on the increased online drug trade by developing false personas, or creating an online shopfront to collect intelligence.
#7. Source Meets
The ability to communicate with sources in person will be restricted.
This means agents who need to contact or meet with sources will need to do so in novel ways (excuse the pun). This provides increased potential for exposure.
Agencies should focus on best ways to legitimise meetups consistent with everyday COVID-19 pattern of life, i.e. grocery shops.
If all else fails, you could just try what the Polish Police did, and ask all criminals to “please stop all criminal activities until further notice”
Other criminal elements impacted by COVID-19 include:
- Human trafficking is likely to be limited by the cross border restrictions, and perhaps easier to police?
- OPSEC. The increase of people working from home will mean there’s increased level of security needed. Consider your OPSEC if your work would otherwise be working in a windowless room.
If you can think of some novel ways Criminal Intelligence and / or Police can capitalise on the current situation, post in the comments below.
The most unique idea gets a prize, and who knows, might even get picked up by INTERPOL.