Interdicting international drug trafficking: a network approach for coordinated and targeted interventions

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There is a relative dearth of literature on both the effects of cross-border interdictions and the impact of different types of interventions on international drug trafficking. This study identifies the main trafficking routes for cocaine and heroin, along with comparing the disruptive effects induced by targeted and non-coordinated interventions. It adopts a social network approach to identify the routes along which cocaine and heroin are trafficked, and then simulates the impact of different interdiction strategies on these two trafficking networks. The findings indicate that targeting countries based on their respective positions in the networks, as opposed to on the basis of the quantity of drugs exchanged, is more likely to disrupt drug flows. More specifically, concentrating law enforcement resources on countries with several incoming or outgoing trafficking connections, or those countries that mediate between producer, transit and consumer countries, would appear to be particularly effective in this regard. Interventions focused on specific trafficking routes are also likely to be effective if these routes have high edge betweenness centrality scores. This study contributes to extant understanding on the vulnerability of cocaine and heroin international trafficking networks, and, moreover, demonstrates that empirically-driven strategies are potentially more effective at interdicting international trafficking than non-strategic and non-coordinated interventions.

In European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research
Giulia Berlusconi
Giulia Berlusconi
Lecturer in Criminology

My research interests include Illicit and unregulated markets, social network analysis, co-offending.