From the stories in the local rags news outlets ( and you can be forgiven if you believe that criminal empires are getting stronger and bolder, and expanding from the GTA into smaller communities along the 400 series highways and beyond.

I have a somewhat more positive hypothesis that I think actually better explains what we are seeing. The thought is that the double whammy of legal pot and Covid-19 is bankrupting criminals who are becoming desperate for new markets as their old ones dry up. Like the ransomware attacks that have plagued smaller municipalities and businesses as larger municipalities and businesses have hardened their cybersecurity, and criminals have moved to smaller, but easier, targets, I believe that drugs and human trafficking are an increasing problem for smaller municipalities not as the result of the growth of empires, but quite the opposite.

I suspect that the ‘underground market’ for illicit drugs has been shrinking drastically in large centres. Trafficking might seem like a lucrative alternative, but I would be surprised if there was not a previously existing supply that met the demand that could be met without such risk that the criminals get caught. It’s also likely that increased enforcement of the those crimes and outreach to victims is making even that market shrink. (I hate to put such a putrid practise in such clinical or financial terms, but ultimately crime is heavily influenced by the economics of that scene).

In short while the immediate future is alarming for small communities, ultimately I think it means a positive end result is possible, and even likely.

I think justice can win!

PACIFIC OCEAN (June 19, 2012) Suspected drug smugglers raise their hands above their heads after the engines of their fleeing boat were disabled by a U.S. Coast Guard gunner firing from a helicopter deployed from the guided-missile frigate USS Nicholas (FFG 47). Nicholas, with an embarked U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment, was on patrol in the region as part of Operation Martillo, a U.S., European, and western hemisphere partner nation effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. (U.S. Navy photo/Released) 120619-N-ZZ999-005

Credit for cover photo: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons

This file is a work of a sailor or employee of the U.S. Navy, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, it is in the public domain in the United States.