COVID-19 has severely impacted the effectiveness of international law enforcement. Courts, juries, and witnesses are experiencing significant limitations on their ability to conduct business and respond to illicit activity around the world. The types of crimes have also changed. From importing substandard personal protective equipment and other medical supplies, to purchasing counterfeit materials, to a booming trade in contraband, the global health crisis has contributed to new demands and strategies in illicit trade that show no signs of slowing down.
Meanwhile, systems that help combat illicit trade activity have been weakened during the pandemic by resource shortages. Low-friction trade routes are being increasingly utilized in ways that raise corruption risks due to low levels of oversight. In order for law enforcement officials to crack down on trade-based money laundering, it is essential that business communities and civil society organizations play a heightened role in promoting transparency and accountability in global supply chains.