Police chief speaks out as drug dealers use coronavirus crisis to drum up business
Text messages encouraging drug users to stock up branded "irresponsible and dangerous" by police chief
23 March, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby
NORTH London drug dealers have been capitalising on the UK’s coronavirus pandemic by contacting customers and encouraging them to stock up on narcotics in preparation for isolation.
The Islington Tribune was shown a number of text messages in which people were warned there would be fewer dealers on the streets in the event of a city-wide lockdown.
One dealer even tried to drum up businesses by pretending they had inside knowledge of an imminent lockdown due to start last Thursday.
In another message, a dealer offered their condolences to anyone suffering from Covid-19 and asked them to sanitize their hands before coming into contact with their drivers.
It comes amid the virus outbreak which had, at the time of writing, killed 335 and infected almost 6,000 Britons.
In response to being informed about the messages, Islington’s most senior police officer Chief Superintendent Raj Kohli urged against individuals stockpiling and warned anyone buying illicit drugs from potentially infected dealers would be “daft”.
“If you are stockpiling you will get caught and arrested so now is not a time to do that,” said Chief Supt Kohli.
“Also, drug dealers are probably quite contagious given they are dealing with lots of people and from experience, they are not the most hygienic, the ones I know anyway. So, if you’re going to risk buying drugs from possible infected people then you’re daft,” he added.
“This is them just finding a way to make their drug dealing work but it’s irresponsible and dangerous.
“Drug dealing is a challenge across London and Covid might get in the way of us dealing with that directly for the time being but we will come back to it.
Chief Supt Raj Kohli
“But, talking of stockpiling – although we may slow down going through as many doors as we were – we’re still executing warrants and arresting drug dealers and we’re stockpiling criminal intelligence and when we go back to reality we will come after you.”
Speaking of the wider plan in place for Islington and Camden Chief Supt Kohli said: “This is uncharted territory but what I can say is, we have a plan.
“Everything is geared towards maximising the safety of people. If you hit 999 you’ll get a response and if you are arrested there’ll be a team to interview you.
“I may have to take resources from elsewhere but we are able to borrow and share resources across the boroughs. We’re having daily calls about it and have it planned.
“We have no idea what kind of hold Covid is going to take but if we lose many staff we have a plan and we’ve got a grip on all of this all things considered.”