Ireland is among a number of countries where criminals are using food delivery drivers to transport drugs during Covid-19 lock-downs.
Food delivery drivers are now a common sight on otherwise deserted streets because of the public health emergency.
Interpol, the international criminal police organisation, has received reports from police in Ireland, Malaysia, Spain and Britain of delivery drivers transporting drugs.
Some of the drugs — including cocaine, marijuana, ketamine and ecstasy — were concealed inside a false bottom of home delivery backpacks.
Gardaí in Dublin recovered 8kg of cocaine with a street value of about €500,000 as well as two handguns hidden in pizza boxes in early April. The drugs’ seizure, one of the largest to be made so far this year, followed a dramatic car chase through the city.
Spanish police arrested seven individuals dressed as food delivery drivers in Alicante and Valencia attempting to transport illicit drugs.
Gardaí were conducting a Covid-19 checkpoint on Phibsboro Road in Dublin at about 4.30am on Tuesday, April 14 when they attempted to stop a car. The car sped off into the city centre and gardaí conducted “a managed containment operation” that ended when the vehicle collided with a wall in Essex Quay.
One of the occupants was seen throwing something into the River Liffey and two handguns were later recovered during a search by members of the Garda Sub-Aqua Unit. Gardaí searched the car and found another package containing 8kg of cocaine and a small amount of cannabis.
Two men and one woman were arrested and gardaí involved in the case are continuing their investigations.
Based on the arrests in Ireland and Spain as well as incidents in other countries’ Interpol has issued a ’purple notice’ alerting its 194 member countries to the new modus operandi used by criminals.
“As criminals continue to adapt their activities in 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, said Interpol's executive director of police services, Stephen Kavanagh.
A Malaysian rider, used as an unwitting drug mule, became suspicious and asked police to inspect his food package. It weighed 11kg but he had only been asked a single order of Indian flatbread.