The pandemic is not stopping homicide, drug trafficking

In spite of the pandemic and the accompanying intensive movement restrictions, UN data shows the still ongoing international trafficking of cocaine through sea routes and organized gangs are committing homicides at about the same rate.  Lee Kok Leong, executive editor, Maritime Fairtrade, reports

The pandemic’s impact on drug trafficking is linked to the way drug shipments are typically crossing borders. Movement restrictions have disrupted the international trafficking of heroin more than cocaine as a result of heroin’s greater reliance on land transport. 

International trafficking of heroin, primarily transported by land, has been disrupted differently than cocaine trafficking, which relies on sea routes. Recent large seizures of cocaine in European ports show the still ongoing international trafficking of cocaine.

COVID-19 lockdown measures seem to have reduced violence only in countries with a relatively low homicide rate.  However, there is little impact on homicide driven by organized crime and gang violence. 

According to a new report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), data on homicide trends show that in the months of March to mid-April 2020, homicide levels remained stable or slightly decreased in Central America. 

This could be linked to different lockdown regimes but can also be explained by the fact that the main actors, such as organized crime and youth gangs, continued, at least in this phase, to operate violently. 

Data also shows that in countries with low levels of homicide, the intensity of lockdown measures seems to have drastically reduced violence.

Available reports on countries of western Europe and the United States reflect a sharp decrease of lethal violence, while it also shows that tight lockdown measures have resulted in a sharp decrease of homicide levels.

To assess the impact on domestic violence, however, is challenging. While a decrease of gender-based killings was observed in some countries, requests for assistance helplines or service centers protecting victims of gender violence increased in a number of countries.

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