COVID-19 pandemic has major effect on the Irish drug trade

Megan Jones

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on the Irish drug trade, ultimately decimating the cocaine industry but increasing demand for cannabis, according to Gardaí and community officers.

Nicola Tallant, Investigations Editor at the Sunday World, described the drug trade in Ireland at the moment as “utterly chaotic”.

Speaking to Matt Cooper on his TodayFM show The Last Word, Tallant said what is currently happening in the cocaine industry is “unprecedented”:

“The cocaine market has collapsed completely. Not only here, but in Europe and the US, because everybody is on lockdown,” she said. “For the first time, I think since cocaine was discovered as a recreational drug, it is not being bought, there is no demand,”.

“It’s a recreational drug used by people going out after work and in pubs and clubs, which are obviously all closed now,”.

Garda experts told the Irish Times they predict cocaine prices could fall from €70,000 per kilo to “possibly €60,000 or €50,000”. However, they noted that the Covid-19 lockdown is unlikely to have a major effect on supply, therefore Irish gangs will likely “stockpile for a couple of months and be ready to go again when this is all over”.

Another contributing factor to the collapse of the cocaine industry is the difficulty in getting it across borders:

“There’s an awful lot more patrols [and] not as much activity on the roads… certainly, some of them are moving out of their 2km zone but they have a much higher likelihood of being caught at the moment,” said the Investigations Editor.

While the demand for cocaine has decreased dramatically, it has increased for cannabis and benzodiazepines such as Xanax.

“Probably 60 per cent to 70 per cent of people who smoke weed do it at home watching television or walking the dog or fishing or whatever – that’s how they always smoked it, and that will continue,” a Garda source told The Irish Times.

Megan Jones

Image Credit: Amritanshu Sikdar