Law Enforcement Strategies to Disrupt Illicit Drug Markets


November 23, 2021


Prof. Yvon Dandurand



Law Enforcement Strategies to Disrupt Illicit Drug Markets

This report reviews the research literature on illicit drug markets and law enforcement attempts to disrupt them. Attempts by law enforcement to disrupt illicit drug markets take many forms, including attempts to control or reduce the illicit supply or distribution of drugs, interfere with the activities of drug market participants, or arrest and convict some of these participants. Each type of illicit drug market disruption is triggered differently, requires different types of resources and strategies, and involves a different level of law enforcement intervention. The market disruption strategies reviewed in this report are not very promising. In fact, these interventions tend to have a very limited effect on drug markets or on the availability of illicit drugs. None of them seems to have a lasting impact on illicit drug markets and very few of them seem to have an impact on organized crime groups and networks that exploit and profit from these markets. In brief, illicit drug markets invariably prove themselves resilient and flexible, and they either promptly adapt to change and reconfigure or displace themselves. Furthermore, law enforcement disruption strategies often risk having a detrimental impact on affected communities, whether from a public health, quality of life, violence prevention, or police-community relation perspective.


Prof. Yvon Dandurand

Senior Associate


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