Jersey’s drugs market almost completely collapsed in March when the commercial air and sea links used by UK and European gangs to smuggle illegal substances to the Island were abruptly suspended.
Dealers – faced with demand from Jersey drug users – then rerouted their shipments through the mail service, say Customs.
Officers made 45 seizures – mainly of personal quantities of cannabis or cannabis-based products – at the post office in April, compared to 11 in the same month last year.
Separately, Customs has also revealed that a total of 22 people have been blocked from attempting to enter or exit the Island during the current coronavirus pandemic. Under current restrictions anyone wishing to travel – through either commercial or private means – must first obtain authorisation from Customs officers.
Mark Cockerham, head of the Jersey Customs and Immigration Service, said: ‘Due to the lack of commercial transport at the moment, increased attempts will be made to import drugs through the post. Taking into account social-distancing restrictions at the post office, we have established a dedicated postal examination team who are busy dealing with increased volumes of post as the public orders more goods online.
‘All operational options are being utilised to detect any drugs, including intelligence, physical examinations, the use of drug-detector dogs and X-ray equipment.
‘Postal volumes are reaching levels normally seen during peak periods such as Christmas.’
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, there are now only three commercial flights a week into Jersey and these are only available to those travelling for essential, government-approved reasons.
Passenger ferries have not operated into Jersey for several weeks.
Mr Cockerham added: ‘In spite of the current lockdown, all drug postal seizures will be investigated and those responsible will be held accountable.
‘I should stress that any enforcement activity we undertake does not delay the postal supply route or, indeed, the wider supply routes in terms of goods coming into the Island.’
Despite officers making increased efforts to trace drugs being imported into the Island by mail, Mr Cockerham added that the service’s other duties continued as normal.
‘Given the absence of commercial options, we are monitoring coastal activities to ensure clandestine activity – drugs and illegal immigration – does not increase during this period,’ he said.
The service’s work to prepare the Island for Brexit is also continuing while they develop a new border immigration system and Customs union protocols.