More demand and less supply, Argentina’s drug world under lockdown

By Aitor Pereira

Buenos Aires, May 21 (efe-epa).- Argentina’s lockdown has reduced the amount of illegal drugs coming into the country and increased demand, with traffickers seeking new distribution channels.

Since the coronavirus pandemic restrictions began on 20 March drug smuggling crimes have decreased 90 percent compared to the same period last year and 83 percent compared to 2018, with the detected cases mainly relating to marihuana and cocaine, according to the security ministry.

The government department has warned that demand has not decreased which means there could be a “rearticulation of forms and structures in all the links of the chain, in such a way that traffic and contraband continue to be made possible to satisfy that demand”.

Gabriela Torres, director of the Secretariat for Comprehensive Drug Policies of Argentina (Sedronar), told Efe they have detected a higher consumption rate among people who previously had no history of substance abuse.

She attributed this to “uncertainty that is transformed into anguish” during the Covid-19 crisis.

Authorities fear that activities permitted during isolation have become new channels for drug traffickers.

Argentina’s Trade Union Association of Motorcyclists, Messengers and Services has reported an increase in delivery workers being used to distribute drugs.

Union director Gonzalo Ottaviano told Efe that this practice was first detected in 2018 and has increased over time but has exploded under quarantine.

“The worst thing we see is that it occurs more frequently in the context we are going through, with the Covid-19 pandemic this increased, apparently it is the only easy way to carry out these manoeuvres,” he said.

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