In the State of New Jersey alone, it has been reported that about 494 suspected drug overdose deaths were encountered since March 1. State numbers prepared by NJCARES indicate that 26 of these deaths happened in Monmouth County while Ocean County recorded 31 deaths.
Even though the raging coronavirus pandemic has seen the introduction of various stay-at-home government guidelines, it appears that the illicit drug business is still afloat as evidenced by dark web stats and law enforcement reports.
A Paradigm Shift in the Drug Industry
It is clear that the drug industry has not been shut down whatsoever, an aspect that contrasts sharply with the traditional stock market. Nonetheless, we cannot necessarily conclude that there has been a spike in drug deals over the past few months.
This is according to the New Jersey Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Susan Gibson who has observed a paradigm shift in the drug trade in the sense that dealers have been forced to respond to the economic ramifications of the pandemic by figuring out alternative routes of drug distribution.
According to the agent, the fact that drug buyers have suffered economically from the effects of the pandemic has still not stopped them from finding ways to finance their habits. it seems that a lot of drug users have resorted to trading items like guns and jewelry in exchange for illicit substances.
A close look at the ideas presented in an InsightCrime article highlight the rather chilling effects of the current global circumstance – supply chain issues will lead to an increase in fentanyl use.
On the side of drug traffickers, traders have also taken a serious hit from the economic turmoil that has accompanied the current public health crisis. Supplies have constricted as drug volumes moving to the United States have reduced. This has prompted the dealers to mark up prices to adjust, including the innovation of creative ideas to alter the drug quantities by adding up foreign elements to original products.
What’s the DEA Doing About This?
Owing to the current circumstance of a dark web-facilitated illicit drug industry, it appears that the DEA is moving to scare off the drug traffickers in New Jersey. The law enforcement agency has been putting criminal organizations on notice throughout this period of uncertainty.
According to Agent Gibson, the DEA is interested in striking fear in the minds of the criminals by letting them become highly sensitive to the active presence of the agency even through the pandemic. Pursuit to this matter, the DEA has conducted more than 75 law enforcement operations during the coronavirus crisis and they have yielded interesting results.
Gibson shared that DEA agents had succeeded in busting more than 17kg of heroin during the time of the operations, and seized more than $6 million worth of currency in the same period. The agent asserted that the DEA was planning to launch more thorough operations that would see that the drug traffickers do not exploit the current environment.
Further, the agent spoke about the expected social consequences that have accompanied the stay-at-home orders and movement restrictions. Concerning this aspect, a spike in depression and anxiety across the population has been observed with the Jersey residents battling substance addiction being the most affected of the populace.
Gibson reflected on the expectation that the coronavirus-related restrictions will do very little to prevent addicts from accessing drugs. In the same breath, addicts who have been hiding their habits from close family members will choose to use drugs at home without letting their kin know that they need help, and this explains the spike in drug overdose-related deaths in the State of New Jersey.