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Drug smuggling case study: Los Rastrojos

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Smuggling is common in many international trade sectors. It can involve wholly illegal commodities1 , such as cocaine or exotic species of animals; or legal goods that can only be imported with permits and/or payment of tariffs, such as CFC-containing gases or diamonds. Mere tariff evasion, for example through under-specifying the quantity or value of a shipment subject to tariff, though generating the same fiscal effect, is an operationally distinct phenomenon.

For those interested in the prevention of smuggling of radiological/nuclear materials (RNhereafter) a central question is whether there is a generic smuggling capacity or whether organizations and individuals specialize. We take for granted that there is specialization by routes; few individuals or organizations that smuggle across the Mexican border into the United States are also competent to smuggle from Colombia into Panama, let alone from Greece to Italy. The potential dimensions of specialization, besides the obvious geographic dimension, are at least three: characteristics of the import market, bulkiness, technical elements.

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