State border closures created difficulties for organised crime groups to move illicit drugs during the pandemic, with an increase in trucking and courier companies being used to move drugs, the NSW Crime Commission says.
Bans on international travel and various border closures within Australia have interrupted organised crime, but also forced groups to become more inventive.
The use of couriers and trucking companies is "directly related to the closure of the interstate borders and the fact that some transport companies secured travel ban exemptions allowing them to cross the borders in an effort to maintain legitimate trade between the states" the Commission has told a parliamentary inquiry.
Large amounts of cash have also been seized in trucks, mostly heading to Sydney.
The Commission has also reported "anecdotally" an increase in the use of normal parcel post to move drugs and cash between cities as people haven't been able to cross borders themselves.
While border controls have forced criminals to become more creative, the measures have also hampered law enforcement agencies' investigations, delaying investigations into organised and serious crimes because they were unable to use surveillance devices or conduct coercive hearings with prospective witnesses based over state borders.
"In one investigation involving a cross-border controlled operation it was assessed that while law enforcement officers and civilian participants may have been able to travel interstate by exemption, they would not have been able to do so without raising suspicion by OCG members and therefore cross-border movements were not considered to be a viable investigative technique," the Commission said.