IMC Colloquium Series: "Analyzing illegal drug supply chains as two-mode social networks"

Friday, January 21, 2011
11:30 - 12:30

Dr. Martin Bouchard
School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University


A promising avenue for law enforcement agencies to have an impact on drug trafficking networks is to focus on the most important actor, the one that is least likely to be in abundant supply: the "key player". It is the one that, if removed, will produce the most destabilizing impact in a trafficking network. Identifying this key player is a challenge in itself. In this paper, the key player is defined as one of the many positions that illegal drug market participants may occupy, from importer to retailer. The individual drug trafficking networks of 187 incarcerated drug market participants active at different positions in are brought together in order to reconstitute the full drug supply chain. Drawing on two-mode social network analysis where the relations are defined between individuals and the positions with which they interact, we examine the relative power and centrality of 14 distinct positions in the chain. The findings show that the middle market distributors hold the most central position in the chain. Rarely the focus of empirical research or of police investigations, these distributors are the only ones having access to the full supply chain. The policy and research implications of these findings will be discussed.