Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New cocaine tracking system could lead to better drug enforcement

Date:
June 19, 2014
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Law enforcement authorities need to better understand trafficking patterns of cocaine in the United States to address one of the world's largest illegal drug markets, according to a researcher whose new methodology might help. While cities in the north and northeast are destination cities for cocaine, the researcher found cities in the southern U.S. and along the west coast are source cities. In addition, cities in other regions, like Chicago and Atlanta, are major hubs for cocaine.

As part of his research, Siddharth Chandra created a map of cocaine prices in U.S. cities.
Credit: Image courtesy of Michigan State University

Law enforcement authorities need to better understand trafficking patterns of cocaine in the United States to address one of the world's largest illegal drug markets, according to a Michigan State University researcher whose new methodology might help.

Related Articles


Siddharth Chandra, an economist, studied wholesale powdered cocaine prices in 112 cities to identify city-to-city links for the transit of the drug. He used data published by the National Drug Intelligence Center of the U.S. Department of Justice from 2002 to 2011, which field intelligence officers and local, regional and federal law enforcement sources collected through drug arrests and investigations.

"These data enable us to identify suspected links between cities that may have escaped the attention of drug enforcement authorities," said Chandra, director of MSU's Asian Studies Center and professor in MSU's James Madison College. "By identifying patterns and locations, drug policy and enforcement agencies could provide valuable assistance to federal, state and local governments in their decisions on where and how to allocate limited law enforcement resources to mitigate the cocaine problem."

Chandra analyzed prices for 6,126 pairs of cities for possible links. If two cities are connected, prices will move in lockstep. So if there's a spike in cocaine prices in the city of origin -- or a source city, where the drug originates -- that spike will be transmitted to all cities dependent upon that source. In addition, cocaine will flow from the city with the lower price to the city with the higher price. It takes a number of transactions for cocaine to reach its end price, and prices tend to go up as drugs move from one city to another, he said.

While cities in the north and northeast are destination cities for cocaine, Chandra found cities in the southern U.S. and along the west coast are source cities. In addition, cities in other regions, like Chicago and Atlanta, are major hubs for cocaine.

Chandra also created a map of possible drug routes, which he compared with a map produced by the National Drug Intelligence Center, and found that a number of his routes hadn't been identified.

But Chandra cautions that his methodology shouldn't be used in isolation. Instead, it is one piece of the larger drug trafficking puzzle. Individual bits of the publicly available NDIC data may or may not be accurate based on whether drug smugglers tell the truth. However, the combined data could lead to better drug enforcement.

Unfortunately, Chandra said, the NDIC was closed in 2012 and he's not sure if another agency is continuing to collect data. But his research shows the importance of doing so.

"As an economist, the big takeaway is that prices carry some valuable information about trafficking in illegal goods," Chandra said.

Two of Chandra's former students, Samuel Peters and Nathaniel Zimmer, who recently graduated, assisted with the research. The study is published in the Journal of Drug Issues.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Chandra, S. Peters, N. Zimmer. How Powdered Cocaine Flows Across the United States: Evidence From Open-Source Price Data. Journal of Drug Issues, 2014; DOI: 10.1177/0022042614522621

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "New cocaine tracking system could lead to better drug enforcement." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140619125327.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2014, June 19). New cocaine tracking system could lead to better drug enforcement. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140619125327.htm
Michigan State University. "New cocaine tracking system could lead to better drug enforcement." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140619125327.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

AP (Oct. 28, 2014) Moms and Dads get a more hands-on approach to parenting with tech-centric products for raising their little ones. (Oct. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Newsy (Oct. 27, 2014) Researchers have come up with another reason why dark chocolate is good for your health. A substance in the treat can reportedly help with memory. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

AFP (Oct. 27, 2014) Coding has become compulsory for children as young as five in schools across the UK. Making it the first major world economy to overhaul its IT teaching and put programming at its core. Duration: 02:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins