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Table 3 SNA studies of drug trafficking group structure

From: Drug supply networks: a systematic review of the organizational structure of illicit drug trade

Sources from systematic review Main data source Country Focusa Group type Drug market Nodes Links Analytics Findings
Bright and Delaney (2013) Courts—2 related seed cases (prosecution evidence) Australia CS-GF Independent Meth 58 Illicit co-activity Centrality; descriptive analysis Network expansion increases visibility of members—degree centralization increased and density decreased as group became more profit-oriented
Calderoni (2014) Courts—2 & 3 judgments & invest. evidence Italy CS-DC Mafia Cocaine 61 & 73 (individuals with @ least 2 contacts) Communication about illicit activity Degree & betweenness centrality Bosses and traffickers have higher degree and betweenness centrality scores
Traffickers and bosses sig. more likely to be arrested but only traffickers are sig. more likely to be convicted
Calderoni et al. (2014) Police—electronic surveillance Italy CS-DC Mafia Cocaine 65 Communication about illicit activity Triangles; Simmelian backbone; degree and betweenness centrality Drug trafficking networks have less triangles (lower density) than conventional networks
Individuals appearing in many triangles are more likely to be key players
Duijn et al. (2014) Police—all intel. & co-arrests Netherlands Population Assortment Cannabis 793 (subset of cannabis cultivators) Illicit co-activity & co-arrests Efficiency; density People in visible roles, e.g., transport and leadership roles (coordinator, financing, international trade), are central and vulnerable to disruption; not at a social distance from others. Network density increases after disruption attack
Hofmann and Gallupe (2015) Courts—records & news reports Colombia & USA CS-GF Cartel Cocaine 127 Regular communication about illicit activity Degree, closeness, & betweenness centrality; 2-step reach Leader was involved in daily operations and was the most central
Mainas (2012) Police—relational database Greece CS-DC Independent Mixed 1554 (principal component) Regular communication about illicit activity Path length; k-cores Drug distribution network structures expand outward from core. Compared to terrorist networks, there is less embedding
Malm and Bichler (2011) Police—all intel. & co-arrests Canada Population Assortment Mixed 1696 (principal component) Illicit co-activity & co-arrests Clustering coefficient; geodesic distance Drug distribution network exhibit small world properties. Network is low in density compared to simulated networks; therefore, it is flexible
Malm et al. (2008) Police—all intel. & co-arrests Canada CS-DC Independent Cannabis 376 Illicit co-activity & co-arrest Degree, betweenness, & closeness centrality Leaders of cannabis cultivation network were socially central but geographically distanced themselves from drug production sites
Morselli (2009) Courts—3 related cases Canada CS-DC Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Cocaine 174 (actors targeted by police) Communication for illicit purposes Degree & betweenness centrality Leaders were not in center of network; rather, mid and lower level members were in center
Morselli (2010) Courts—3 related cases Canada CS-DC Independent Hashish & cocaine 174 (actors targeted by police) Communication for illicit purposes Degree & betweenness centrality High degree centrality indicated vulnerability in the network and more likely to be arrested
Leaders had high betweenness centrality and low degree centrality
Morselli et al. (2007) Courts—wiretaps & surveillance Canada CS-GF Independent Cocaine 110 (subset implicated in trafficking) Communication for trafficking purposes Path length; Degree, betweenness & closeness centrality Drug trafficking network builds out from core
Drug trafficking network has shorter geodesic and higher centralization than terrorist networks
Mean centrality in all forms except closeness is higher in terrorist networks
Closeness centrality in the drug trafficking network is higher when legitimate actors added
Key participants more stable in drug trafficking network
Morselli and Petit (2007) Courts—wiretaps & surveillance Canada CS-DC Independent Hashish & cocaine 110 (subset implicated in trafficking) Communication for trafficking purposes Degree and betweenness centrality Core decentralization increased as law enforcement targeting increased
Tenti and Morselli (2014) Courts—1 court order (wiretaps & surveillance) Italy CS-DC Street Gang Meth 242 Communications about co-offending/illicit co-activity Density; clustering coefficient Coordinators occupy central role, high in betweenness and degree centrality
Trafficking distribution network (and the groups occupying the market chain) tend to be more decentralized than centralized
Xu and Chen (2008) Police—co-offense data USA CS-GF Independent Meth 3917 Co-offending Path length; clustering coefficient; efficiency. Drug trafficking networks have higher path lengths, clustering coefficients, and efficiency metrics than terrorist networks
  1. CS-GF refers to a case study with a group focus
  2. aCS-DC refers to case study of a distribution chain