It didn’t take long for drug traffickers to recover from the initial setback caused by lockdown restrictions. They are already operating at pre-pandemic levels once again, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in its latest World Drug Reprt. According to the report, the pandemic may have even helped these drug sales because access to drugs has also become more simple than ever with online ordering and major drug markets on the dark web accessible with a tap of a button.
The report goes on to say that “the COVID-19 crisis has pushed more than 100 million people into extreme poverty, and has greatly exacerbated unemployment and inequalities, as the world lost 114 million jobs in 2020. In doing, so it has created conditions that leave more people susceptible to drug use and to engaging in illicit crop cultivation.”
And with drug use comes the extra danger of high doses of opioids and potency of fentanyl. These drugs especially increase the risk of overdose, and fentanyl sold on the street can be mixed with heroin or cocaine, which markedly amplifies its potency and potential dangers. But the bad effects can also reach beyond the buyer and seller.
The increase in illicit drug sales has exacerbated the global drug problem and is impacting communities worldwide and stressing already constrained investigative resources. Police officers and their canine partners can become sickened if exposed to fentanyl. Unknown substances spill and become airborne. Packages open and spread contaminants—puffs of unidentified material release. Investigating canines become exposed, carrying the deadly drug on their fur and back to fellow officers.
Communities everywhere are feeling the effects – and need to protect their neighborhoods, and those who usually protect them. Law enforcement personnel can utilize the latest narcotics detection technology to quickly identify suspected illegal drugs in the field as a presumptive testing method for use with search warrants, probable cause, preliminary hearings and felony arraignment. The latest technology includes handheld chemical identification and narcotics identification analyzers that can identify unknown substances on the spot – whether it’s at a traffic stop, a meth lab, or a port of entry — and can quickly adapt to new designer drugs and emerging variations as they gain traction in the market.
(Read about the latest technologies in “Keeping safe from narcotics” – a free guide for communities and agencies.)
Efficient narcotics identification methods are crucial for moving cases through the judiciary to resolution and also identifying those in need of substance abuse support. With backlogs at the crime lab, the time between arrest and early court proceedings can reach one year. With admission of certain spectroscopy analysis that these instruments can provide, tamper-proof reports — with test location, time, result and operator for inclusion in the investigative file — can be delivered to the prosecuting attorney’s office, and cases can be prepared for court in a matter of weeks.
It doesn’t look like the drug crisis will slow down, whether there’s a continuing health crisis or not. We’ve tried to keep our communities safe from the pandemic, but we can’t forget to also keep them safe from narcotics. Restaurants and small shops may have closed, but the drug business is booming.
“Keeping safe from narcotics” – a free guide for communities and agencies
Post Author: Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane.