LAW-ENFORCEMENT DISRUPTION OF A DRUG IMPORTATION NETWORK
This study focuses on the structure and evolution of a drug importation network that operated from Montreal, Canada, and that was the target of an extensive 2-year criminal investigation. The investigation was atypical in that it followed a seize-but-do-not-arrest strategy – while 11 drug shipments were seized by police throughout this period, arrests were never made until the final phase of the investigation. Such a case offers a rare opportunity to study the dynamics of a criminal network under intense surveillance and disruption. The reconstruction of the importation network is based on electronic communication transcripts that were intercepted and compiled during the investigation. Findings from analyses of the principal changes that took place within the communication network reveal how network centralization and critical node status are variable, and not static, properties of a criminal network under considerable constraint. The study demonstrates how a criminal network decentralizes and is re-ordered in response to intense law-enforcement targeting. Contributions are made to research on disruption in criminal networks. We conclude with a discussion on how a criminal network’s flexibility, a feature generally presented as a sign of resilience, may contribute to a more significant demise within a context of intensive control.
Keywords: criminal network; social network analysis; drug trafficking; law-enforcement; critical node
Carlo Morselli and Katia Petit (2007) Global Crime 8(2): 109-130.