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Organizational Structure of International Drug Smuggling

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 38 Issue: 2 Dated: March/April 2010 Pages: 130-138
Jana S. Benson; Scott H. Decker
Date Published
March 2010
9 pages
This study examined the commonly held features of formal organizations, and contrasted them with descriptions of drug smuggling organizations provided by a sample of high-level international drug smugglers.
While most group offending is not well organized, it is generally assumed that high levels of organization can be found in group offending that generates revenue, such as white-collar crime, drug sales, and smuggling drugs or humans. The organizational structure of international drug smuggling has typically been viewed as highly rational and formally structured. Employing interview with 34 Federal prisoners convicted of smuggling large volumes of cocaine into the United States, this study explored the organizational structure of high-level international drug smuggling. The subjects described a general lack of formal structure and depicted the drug smuggling operations as composed of isolated work groups without formal connections among each other. These findings bring into question the idea that these groups are rationally organized around pursuing efficiency and support recent research that suggests network security or minimizing risk are key organizing principles of drug trading organizations. Table and references (Published Abstract)