International Drug Trafficking: Past, Present, and Prospective Trends

Luca Giommoni, R.V. Gundur, Erik Cheekes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Since the early 20th century, the illegal drug trade has received increasing focus throughout the world. However, the use of mind-altering substances predates attempts to prohibit or regulate them. Early control efforts date back to the teachings of Mohammed in the Koran, though wider-scale control efforts did not occur until the 18th century. Since that time, the control of illicit drugs has been commonplace throughout the world. Several illicit markets exist in responding to the ongoing demand. Four notable ones are cocaine, heroin, cannabis, and synthetically produced, mind-altering substances. The production, transportation, and usage of these substances are all impacted by the histories of the producer, intermediary, and user countries. This article explores how these drug trades have changed over time, forming trafficking routes and enterprises that trade in illicit drugs, and how geopolitical events have affected the drug trade. In addition, this article explores current and future trends of the illicit drug trade, including the foray of sellers and buyers in the digital marketplace and the increasing number of jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis. It also provides a brief overview of how the illicit drug trade has been and can be studied.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice
EditorsHenry Pontell
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages43
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2020

Publication series

NameOxford Research Encyclopedias


  • illicit drugs
  • drug trafficking
  • heroin
  • cocaine
  • cannabis
  • synthetic drugs
  • international drug trafficking


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