Under the framework of CRIMJUST - Criminal Network Disruption Programme, the Drug Research Section of the Research and Trends Analysis Branch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is developing a series of publications, dubbed "Cocaine Insights". These publications are developed in cooperation with partners and stakeholders at national, regional, and international levels and deliver the latest knowledge and trends on issues related to cocaine markets in an accessible and informative format. This series of publications covers topics and developments related to the illicit cocaine trade, its impact, and the outlook for the future.
Afghan Opiate Trade Project
The Hawala System
(released September 2023)
“Traditional money transfer services serve a crucial role in global financial transactions. A new publication titled "The Hawala System: Its Operation and Misuse by Opiate Traffickers and Migrant Smugglers" delves into this distinctive financial ecosystem, offering insights into its legitimate functions and vulnerabilities.
This interview-based study covers 18 member states and involves 113 hawaladars worldwide. The publication provides valuable insights into the complexities of the Hawala system, shedding light on its dual role as both a legitimate financial service and a potential tool for illicit activities”.
Systems Analysis and Disruption Planning Book
(released February 2023)
Systems Analysis methodology makes use of existing analytical techniques to create an understanding of organized crime as a ‘system’ which can be disrupted by targeting specific key elements of that system – e.g. strengthening specific borders, protecting particular units from corruption, and arresting specific individuals who play a crucial role in a network.
This workbook focuses on understanding and analysis i.e - problem setting and how this should inform the subsequent disruption planning. Some investigators use systems analysis and plan disruption activity instinctively – this workbook helps disruption planners create a written record of their analysis and decisions. This record is vital to demonstrate accountability in post operation debriefs and external enquiries when inevitably things do not go according to plan.”
Workbook is available to member states on demand
Analysis of opiate stamps seized in the Indian Ocean 2017-2021
(released January 2023)
This study examines the stamps and markings used in wholesale illicit drug markets to examine the links between the features found on opiate package stamps and the modus operandi of Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs). The report finds that stamps are often used for branding purposes, comparable to brand logos used with legitimate goods, or to identify or disguise the producers of a batch of heroin. Secondly, stamps are selected by individual DTOs and usually cannot be copied by other traffickers. Additionally, according to the study, while the majority of opiates trafficked from Afghanistan are transported by land, some opiates produced in Afghanistan and South-West Asia are transported by sea via the southern route.
Afghan Women and the Opiate Trade
(released November 2022)
The study investigates Afghan women's role and involvement in the drug trade, motivations for entering and remaining in the drug trade, the business model and drug trafficking networks.
Global Report on Cocaine 2023 – Local dynamics, global challenges
(released March 2023)
This report analyses the cocaine trafficking trends regarding the routes, modalities, and networks employed. The report exposes the data found on the global supply of cocaine, which is now at record levels
and details the fragmentation and the rise of new organised crime groups. The report further demonstrates the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the causes of the rising coca cultivation (which is link to both the expansion in coca bush cultivation and improvements in the process of converting coca bush to cocaine hydrochloride). Additionally, it shows a rise in interceptions of cocaine shipments by law enforcement with seizures reaching record levels in 2021.
The report sheds a light on the innovative evidence-based strategies needed in order to tackle the cocaine trafficking throughout all of the stages (from its production to its trafficking, and use).
Cocaine Insight #1 – ‘The illicit trade of cocaine from Latin America to Europe: from oligopolies to free-for-all’
(released September 2021)
This study, developed in partnership with EUROPOL, looks at increased diversification and emergence of actors, networks and modalities along the cocaine supply chain connecting Latin America, West Africa and Europe.
Cocaine Insight #2 Cocaine – A spectrum of products
(released October 2021)
This publication joins existing efforts to promote evidence-based strategies for the prevention and attention of problems related to cocaine consumption. It looks at cocaine consumer products, its added adulterants, and the names by which cocaine products are locally known.
Cocaine Brief # 3 – Cocaine - Women in the Cocaine Supply Chain
(released March 2022)
Cocaine trafficking relies on a complex supply chain whose links affect multiple segments of the population across different world regions. This research analysis showcases the diversity of roles undertaken by women in the global cocaine supply chain, including their participation in coca bush cultivation and cocaine manufacture, trafficking, and distribution, as well as sheds light on the factors driving their involvement.
Cocaine Brief # 4 – Brazil in the regional and transatlantic cocaine supply chain: The impact of COVID-19
(released July 2022)
This publication, developed by UNODC in partnership with the Center of Excellence for Illicit Drug Supply Reduction in Brazil (CoE), looks at COVID-19 and its impact on the cocaine supply chain in and around Brazil. It finds that COVID-19 affected law enforcement activities, disrupted the activity of organized crime groups, impacted cocaine and cannabis flows and induced changes in trafficking modalities, amongst other impacts on the cocaine trade in Brazil and the region.