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How Illegal Drugs Enter an Island Country: Insights From Interviews with Incarcerated Smugglers

NCJ Number
Global Crime Volume: 10 Issue: 1-2 Dated: February-May 2009 Pages: 66-93
Jonathan P. Caulkins; Honora Burnett; Edward Leslie
Date Published
February 2009
28 pages
This study examined how respondents and their organizations brought drugs into the United Kingdom and sheds light on their incentives.
Results indicated that the majority of respondents were associated with the technology that posed the fewest barriers to entry, such as passengers carrying drugs on regularly scheduled commercial transit (commercial airlines, ferry, or tunnel). Some were self-employed couriers or managers of operations employing many couriers, but most were simple couriers hired on a fee-for-service basis. Those who were not involved in courier-based operations collectively accounted for substantially greater smuggling throughout capacity and fell into five groups: operations that involved corrupt lorry drivers; covertly shipping drugs intermingled with legitimate commerce; organizations that transported drugs via commercial airlines with the assistance of corrupt officials; mailing drugs into the United Kingdom; and classic smuggling via boats landing between ports of entry. A Pareto Law seems to apply, with a minority of respondents being responsible for the majority of the smuggling. Most participated in smuggling to make money, but more than a few couriers reported being coerced or tricked into carrying drugs. A discussion of implications, including very rough estimates of how the returns to crime vary by smuggling modality is discussed in detail. Tables