Chemical profiling: a tool to decipher the structure and organisation of illicit drugs markets: an 8-year study in Western Switzerland

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Serval ID
serval:BIB_A5C66CD13DE6
Type
Article: article from journal or magazin.
Collection
Publications
Institution
Title
Chemical profiling: a tool to decipher the structure and organisation of illicit drugs markets: an 8-year study in Western Switzerland
Journal
Forensic Science International
Author(s)
Broséus J., Baechler S., Gentile N., Esseiva P.
ISSN
0379-0738
Publication state
Published
Issued date
05/2016
Volume
266
Pages
18-28
Language
english
Abstract
Illicit drug analyses usually focus on the identification and quantitation of questioned material to support the judicial process. In parallel, more and more laboratories develop physical and chemical profiling methods in a forensic intelligence perspective. The analysis of large databases resulting from this approach enables not only to draw tactical and operational intelligence, but may also contribute to the strategic overview of drugs markets.
In Western Switzerland, the chemical analysis of illicit drug seizures is centralised in a laboratory hosted by the University of Lausanne. For over 8 years, this laboratory has analysed 5875 cocaine and 2728 heroin specimens, coming from respectively 1138 and 614 seizures operated by police and border guards or customs. Chemical (major and minor alkaloids, purity, cutting agents, chemical class), physical (packaging and appearance) as well as circumstantial (criminal case number, mass of drug seized, date and place of seizure) information are collated in a dedicated database for each specimen.
The study capitalises on this extended database and defines several indicators to characterise the
structure of drugs markets, to follow-up on their evolution and to compare cocaine and heroin markets. Relational, spatial, temporal and quantitative analyses of data reveal the emergence and importance of distribution networks. They enable to evaluate the cross-jurisdictional character of drug trafficking and the observation time of drug batches, as well as the quantity of drugs entering the market every year. Results highlight the stable nature of drugs markets over the years despite the very dynamic flows of distribution and consumption. This research work illustrates how the systematic analysis of forensic data may elicit knowledge on criminal activities at a strategic level. In combination with information from other sources, such knowledge can help to devise intelligence-based preventive and repressive measures and to discuss the impact of countermeasures.
Keywords
Intelligence, database, criminal markets, illicit drug profiling, cocaine, heroin
Create date
10/05/2016 13:51
Last modification date
20/08/2019 15:10
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