A number of arrests in Argentina have shown how drug dealers are willing to go the extra mile to get goods to their customers on time by using e-scooters to skirt Buenos Aires traffic.
Nine people, allegedly belonging to the wonderfully named Banda del Monopatín (E-scooter Gang), were arrested in Buenos Aires' southern suburb of Constitución, according to Felipe Miguel, chief of staff for the Argentine capital's municipal government. The gang allegedly sold cocaine and marijuana, while weapons and cash were also seized.
Police zeroed in on the gang after tracking their chosen mode of transport, e-scooters, which they used to ferry drugs from their stash houses to sales points across Constitución, where other gang members then sold them to customers.
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This is not the first time that these e-scooters, which have become somewhat of a plague along the sidewalks of Latin American cities, have been used for microtrafficking purposes.
One young man was arrested in October 2021 after using e-scooters to deliver cocaine to customers around the northern city of Corrientes. And in July 2018, a young man, who may have been Argentina's pioneer in using e-scooters for nefarious purposes, was jailed for selling designer drugs in the western town of Güemes.
InSight Crime Analysis
Argentina has maintained its reputation of being at the forefront of vehicular innovations by drug traffickers.
In recent years, the country has seen several instances of "narco-ambulances," where emergency vehicles were used to transport drugs and reduce the chance of being stopped and searched by police. E-scooters, meanwhile, are used for hundreds of thousands of trips a year in Buenos Aires.
The use of e-scooters makes sense for microtrafficking purposes. They are quick and maneuverable, and, as they're widely used, the chances of being stopped are reduced.
E-scooters being used by microtrafficking gangs is more commonplace in Spain, where minors were often used to deliver drugs to customers. Cases have been reported in Seville, Lugo, and other cities.
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The use of ride-sharing options has become a regular tactic, with drug trafficking gangs in Latin America now frequently receiving orders via Telegram, WhatsApp, and other social media, before delivering drugs directly to customers' houses.
Efforts to make drug orders and deliveries more convenient accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic as restrictions on movements forced traffickers to think outside the box. With food delivery services being one of the rare services to function, drug traffickers registered as delivery drivers and used this to sell illicit goods.