Mobility Restrictions and Their Effect on Drugs and ViolenceBy Alejandro Enríquez | Thu, 05/14/2020 - 18:38
Reduced mobility across the world has had unintended consequences on other social aspects. With lockdown measures and a diminished flow of people, violence has behaved differently depending on the country, according to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
On a press statement, UNODC highlighted the impact of lockdown measures due to COVID-19 on homicide and drug trafficking. "Lockdown measures seem to have reduced violence only in countries with a relatively low homicide rate, with little impact on homicide driven by organized crime and gang violence. Meanwhile, movement restrictions have disrupted the international trafficking of heroin more than cocaine as a result of greater reliance on land transport," said the organization on a statement.
The findings were part of a large report made by the international statistical community comprised of 36 international and supranational organizations on the impact of the pandemic in different areas. According to UNODC Executive Director, Ghada Waly, data should remain at the cornerstone of upcoming policy decisions.
“To act effectively, we need strong data to guide us. Measuring the many impacts of COVID-19 is a key building block of the recovery that the world needs. Together with fellow United Nations agencies and other partners, UNODC is contributing to a better understanding of the new reality which our societies are facing," she said on a statement.
While mobility restrictions indeed reduced violence in Western Europe and the US considerably, Mexican and Central American crimes related to drug trafficking and gang violence continue. Moreover, drug prices such as methamphetamines have doubled.
On a previous report, UNODC had addressed the consequences of mobility restrictions in the drug supply chain. "Mobility restrictions, closed borders and a decline in overall world trade can disrupt the supply chains of drug markets and may diversify drug trafficking patterns and routes. Sudden changes in the supply and availability of drugs can in turn trigger changes in consumption behaviors," says UNODC in the COVID-19 and drug supply chain report.
According to the organization, stricter measures can create an opportunity for drug trafficking groups to increase their activities and "to expand their influence in the drug markets, as has been suggested for example, in the case of the Taliban in Afghanistan and organized crime groups in Mexico," the report says.
On the other hand, mobility restrictions and lockdown measures also present an opportunity for consumers to change their habits. "What we are finding is, because of the lockdown and because of the fear associated with COVID-19, a lot of them have spent more time at home with their families," told London local officials to the BBC.