• Beth Johnstone

Interview: Dealing in Lockdown


© Illustration by INJECTION - Alicia Lupieri


An interview with a drug dealer struggling to make money and manage the added risks of lockdowns.


In 2020, thanks to the darknet, many drug dealers were already WFH. For those that weren’t, lockdown restrictions presented huge challenges. Having comings and goings noted by neighbours and police was already a continual worry, but the pandemic’s empty streets and banning of house guests meant the level of risk was now colossal, even for the most casual of dealers.


The drug dealer we interviewed is semi-casual, selling mainly weed, acid, MDMA and magic mushrooms to friends and friends of friends. For obvious reasons, they wish to remain anonymous.


How did you get into dealing?


I smoked a lot of weed and got sick of being totally skint all the time. Buying bigger amounts and selling the rest meant I could pretty much smoke for free. It wasn’t for a couple of years that I got into selling other stuff like MDMA, mushrooms and acid. By that point I was actually making money. I quit my bar job and started focusing on my photography and art. I did most of my selling in clubs, and at parties and festivals. On big club nights I’d aim to make about £200 profit, so a couple of those a week and I was sorted. Really easy work compared to working behind the bar.


How did the way you sell drugs change during the pandemic?


Well, all the ways I said before were massively affected. There were still the occasional parties, during summer especially. I’d always shifted a bit during the day as well. I’d meet people and go for a walk with them. Fear of getting caught has made me more cautious than a lot of dealers I think. I have a daughter and would never want my choices to impact her. So I never have people come to mine and if we meet we have to walk for a bit first. And all the people I sell to are either friends or people with mutuals. During lockdown I started leaving drugs around the city wrapped in plastic. I’d send the person buying it a photo of it where I’d left it and the location on maps. Because we weren’t meeting I couldn’t take their money in cash like I used to, so I started making fake eBay listings for people that I’d send them on Telegram. I was only dropping about 3 lots a day, but people bought more at a time. The students I met at the clubs were still buying a lot of MDMA and acid.


Did the pandemic make you more aware of the risks of dealing?


To be honest, I was always pretty paranoid. Lockdown was awful for people like me that were already really aware of the risks. I had quite a good system going before. I could do almost everything with cash. I did my food shop and paid rent with cash, but more and more places are going cashless and having to take money through eBay means my business is online more than ever. I make some money from my art and photography work, but not enough to live off. Hopefully the clubs reopen soon and festivals start happening again. What I’m doing at the moment is okay, but I don’t even think of myself as a proper dealer. Giving it up wouldn’t bother me if I had another way of making money.