There are certainly some interesting stories coming out of the country’s deadly COVID-19 (or coronavirus) pandemic. A recent one that caught our eye originated from a Fox affiliate in San Antonio and touched on the illegal drug market. Since the quarantining hit, it appears as though the price of street narcotics has risen; particularly when it comes to meth and heroin. This may be related to the fact that these substances are now harder to attain for everyday users, making them more valuable for dealers throughout the country.
The Fox article touched on a changing business model for narcotics dealers as well. With the closure of more borders and new restrictions in place, it is apparently much harder to smuggle these types of drugs from countries like Mexico.
Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Dante Sorianello spoke to the site, offering his perspective on the current situation. He believes the answer may not be that simple and price gouging could be at play; using coronavirus as an excuse.
“We have most definitely seen an increase in the price of narcotics domestically since the outbreak occurred,” Sorianello told Fox. “Now does that mean there’s a shortage of the narcotics here, that could be an indicator of that. Could it also be price gouging by some of the traffickers? It could be that, also using the virus as an excuse.”
Whatever the backstory may be, there are still major busts happening in border towns post COVID-19. In late March, for example, more than $30 million dollars of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl was discovered in a smuggling tunnel in San Diego. It ranked as one of the DEA’s largest seizures ever.
And Sorianello also emphasized that some local dealers may be using the quarantining situation to their advantage. There is an assumption that law enforcement is more limited now due to quarantining. Certain street vendors may see that as an opportunity to carry on even more illicit activity without the risk of getting caught.
“So, in many cases, there has not been let up by the traffickers and street dealers,” Sorianello concluded. “Our intelligence does indicate that a lot of the organizations at this time think that law-enforcement is not out there so that they see it as an opportunity to get their narcotics across through the country and into the hands of everyday people.”