Criminals using food delivery services to transport drugs during lockdown: Interpol

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Dublin

PARIS (Reuters) - Criminals are using food delivery services as a cover to transport drugs and other illegal goods during the coronavirus crisis, which has seen countries around the world go into lockdown, said the Interpol police organisation on Thursday.

Interpol said it had received reports from police in Ireland, Malaysia, Spain and Britain identifying delivery drivers transporting drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, ketamine and ecstasy.

The lockdowns and limits to people's movements, imposed by governments around the world in a bid to thwart the spread of the virus, have led to increased demand for delivery drivers.

Earlier this month, the Spanish National Police identified and arrested seven people dressed as food delivery drivers in Alicante and Valencia, said Interpol.

It added that those involved in the Spanish case were caught delivering cocaine and marijuana by bicycle, motorcycle and car, with some of the drugs concealed inside home delivery backpacks.

In Ireland, police recovered 8 kg (17 lbs) of cocaine as well as two handguns hidden in pizza boxes, added Interpol.

Interpol said delivery riders may be complicit or unwitting links in drug transportation and that, in some cases brought to its attention, suspects were sometimes falsely disguised as food delivery drivers.

Senior anti-narcotics officials have also told Reuters that Latin American drug lords have sent bumper shipments of cocaine to Europe in recent weeks, including one in a cargo of squid, even though the coronavirus epidemic has stifled legitimate transatlantic trade.


(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Alex Richardson)