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Interpol warns that Irish food delivery services are being used to transport drugs during Covid-19 crisis

Earlier this month, gardaí recovered eight kilos of cocaine as well as two handguns hidden in pizza boxes.

Image: Shutterstock/SFIO CRACHO

INTERPOL HAS RELEASED an alert warning that organised criminal gangs are using food delivery services to transport drugs during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The international police force said it has received reports from police in Ireland, Malaysia, Spain and the United Kingdom identifying delivery drivers transporting cocaine, marijuana, ketamine and ecstasy.

In early April, the Spanish National Police identified and arrested seven people dressed as food delivery drivers in the Alicante and Valencia areas.

The suspects were caught delivering cocaine and marijuana by bicycle, motorbike and car. Interpol said some of the drugs had been hidden inside a false bottom of home delivery backpacks.

Earlier this month, gardaí recovered eight kilos of cocaine as well as two handguns hidden in pizza boxes.

Based on these arrests, as well as incidents in other countries, Interpol said it has issued a ‘purple notice’ alerting its 194 member countries of this new modus operandi.

Purple notices provide information on objects, devices and concealment methods used by criminals.

“As criminals continue to adapt their activities to a world upended by Covid-19, Interpol’s purple notices are essential tools in enabling police around the world to learn from each other’s successes and address shifting crime patterns,” Stephen Kavanagh, Interpol’s Executive Director of Police Services, said.

“It is thanks to Spain, and other countries which are sharing vital policing information via Interpol that we can ensure law enforcement worldwide is not only kept up-to-date on emerging crime threats but enabled to deal with them,” Kavanagh added.

The statement from Interpol added: “Country-wide lockdowns have sharply increased demand for home delivered food and delivery drivers are a common sight on otherwise deserted streets.

“Delivery riders may be complicit or unwitting links in drug transportation. In cases brought to Interpol’s attention, suspects were sometimes falsely disguised as food delivery drivers. At other times, legitimate food deliver drivers knowingly and willingly delivered drugs on behalf of criminal organisations for financial gain.

“Legitimate food delivery drivers have also been used as unwitting drug mules. In one Malaysian case, a food delivery rider in the Gombak district of Kuala Lumpur contacted police and asked for his food package to be inspected after he became suspicious.

“The rider had been tasked with delivering a single order of Indian flatbread yet the parcel weighed approximately 11 kilograms.”

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