Research on drug trafficking


UNODC monitors and analyses global and regional developments in drug trafficking based on regular reporting from Member States, the monitoring of open sources and first-hand information from structured interviews or similar exercises.

Research on drug trafficking contributes to provide an overall picture of the illicit drug supply chain. It covers aspects such as trafficking routes and flows, latest trends and emerging patterns in drug trafficking and drug distribution, criminal actors involved in drug supply and modi operandi employed.

World drug report

The World Drug Report provides a wealth of information and analysis on drug supply, including on drug trafficking situation and trends.



Booklet 1 provides a summary of the key findings and highlighting their policy implications. It also provides a summary of the impact of COVID-19 on drug markets.

Booklet 34 and 6 include analysis of drug markets and drug trafficking.

Booklet 3 deals with drug supply and presents the latest estimates and trends regarding the production of and trafficking in opiates, cocaine, amphetamine-type stimulants and cannabis.

Booklet 4 addresses a number of cross-cutting issues, including the macrodynamics that are driving the expansion and increasing complexity of the drug markets, and describes some of the rapidly evolving drug-related concerns: the latest, multifaceted global opioid crisis ; rapid market changes ; the market for new psychoactive substances; the use of the darknet for supplying drugs; and developments in jurisdictions that have measures allowing the non-medical use of cannabis.

Finally, booklet 6 addresses a number of other drug policy issues that all form part of the international debate on the drug problem but on which in-depth evidence is scarce, including international cooperation on drug matters and the nexus between drugs and crime.

The statistical annex of the Report provides data on drug trafficking.

Topical research on drug trafficking

The UNODC Afghan Opiate Trade Project (AOTP) aims to address the need for systematic, comprehensive and consolidated analytical information about trends in the global illicit Afghan opiate trade in order to monitor and achieve a better understanding of the global impact of Afghan opiates.

The UNODC research on cocaine markets aims to monitor and analyse trends in the supply and demand of cocaine at national, regional and global levels to identify emerging threats and assess potential future developments, ultimately enabling a pre-emptive response implemented with foresight.

The UNODC Global Synthetics Monitoring: Analyses, Reporting and Trends (SMART) programme works with Governments to assist them in generating and analysing data on the situation with respect to synthetic drugs, in particular amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) and new psychoactive substances (NPS).

The UNODC Drugs Monitoring Platform (DMP) is a common system for collecting, visualizing and sharing drug data. The DMP aims to provide access to real-time data on drug trafficking trends at the micro and macro level, deliver data using interactive visualizations adapted to user specific needs and improve early warning drug threat identification.

Other research on drug supply

Besides its activities on drug trafficking, UNODC research on drug supply also encompasses activities to assess and monitor drug cultivation, production and manufacture at national, regional and international levels.

Besides its activities on drug trafficking, UNODC research on drug markets also encompasses activities to monitor and analyse drug use and patterns of use at national, regional and international levels.


UNODC regularly updates global statistical series on drugs, including on drug trafficking (drug seizures, drug prices, drug purity, drug-related arrests). These data are available at dataUNODC

Following an extensive review of the current data collection instrument on drugs, the Annual Report Questionnaire[CC1] , the UNODC, in consultation with experts from the Member States and international organisations, is preparing a revised Annual Report Questionnaire, which will be implemented from 2021.

28-30 August 2019Second Expert Working Group on improving drug statistics and strengthening the Annual Report Questionnaire (ARQ)

29-31 January 2018Expert Working Group on Improving Drug Statistics and Strengthening the Annual Report Questionnaire (ARQ)