Research on drug trafficking

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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

Consisting of five separate booklets, the World Drug Report 2021 provides an in-depth analysis of the global drug markets and paints a comprehensive picture of the measurable effects and potential impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the world drug problem.

Booklet 1 summarizes the four subsequent booklets by reviewing their key findings and highlighting their policy implications. 

Booklet 2 contains an overview of the global demand for and supply of drugs. It provides the latest estimates of and trends in drug use and looks at several cross-cutting issues related to the world drug problem. Among the issues examined are the extent of drug use and its health impact, including trends seen among people with drug use disorders, drug treatment demand, the harms resulting from NPS use, and HIV and hepatitis among people who inject drugs. The booklet also features a projection of the impact of population growth on drug use by 2030.

Booklet 3 contains an analysis of the global market for cannabis, starting with a review of cannabis supply, including trends in the cultivation of and trafficking in cannabis herb and cannabis resin at the global level and in the various regions. It contains the latest estimates of and trends in cannabis use, including an analysis of changes over time in cannabis use and risk perceptions. The booklet also includes an overview of the latest developments in measures regulating the non-medical use of cannabis in Canada, Uruguay and some jurisdictions in the United States of America.

Booklet 4 contains an analysis of the global market for cocaine, starting with a review of cocaine supply, including trends in the cultivation of coca bush and in the manufacture of and trafficking in cocaine at the global level and in the various regions. It also contains an overview of the latest estimates of and trends in cocaine use in different markets.

Booklet 5 contains an early assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on drug markets, as the situation continues to evolve and more data become available. The aim is to paint a comprehensive picture of the measurable effects and potential impact of the COVID-19 crisis to assist Member States in anticipating and addressing challenges that may arise in the near future.

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.

Data

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, 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)