Elderly pensioners in Chile struggling to make ends meet are being lured by the narcotics trade, changing the profile of traditional drug dealers, police officials said on Saturday.
The average age of drug dealers has soared in Chile, with police saying they had arrested this year some 16 people, mostly women, aged between 60 and 80 years.
Among them were a pair of septuagenarians with a 2kg stash of cocaine.
"Those who fund the operations hire older adults because they don't fit the standard type of a drug offender and receive help from their neighbours," Claudio Salazar, head of the official anti-drug unit, told the El Mercurio newspaper.
"Drug trafficking helps them escape poverty. The neighbours do not complain because they know they would find themselves in a risky situation," said Salazar. Among the arrests, counted since the beginning of the year, were two female friends aged 72 and 79 years, dubbed by Chilean media as the "Grandmothers of Providencia", after the neighbourhood where they shared a house.
They were caught with a cocaine stash worth some $80,000 (Dh293,832).
Most of the women apprehended since the beginning of the year have no prior criminal record and live in poor areas of the city.
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