skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 220319 Find in a Library
Title: Architecture of Drug Trafficking: Network Forms of Organisation in the Colombian Cocaine Trade
Journal: Global Crime  Volume:8  Issue:3  Dated:August 2007  Pages:233-259
Author(s): Michael Kenney
Date Published: August 2007
Page Count: 27
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This article draws on primary and secondary data in Colombia and the United States in order to analyze the organizational form and functioning of Colombian drug trafficking networks.
Abstract: Based on his analysis of the data, the author argues that over the past 25 years the United States' drug-war strategy has been based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the Colombian drug trade. The strategy has stemmed from the belief that the Colombian cocaine trade has been controlled by a few massive, price-fixing cartels. The dismantling of these cartels has been the focus of U.S. drug law enforcement strategy for countering the Colombian cocaine trade. This article maintains that the Colombian cocaine trade has been characterized by a fluid social system with flexible exchange networks that expand and contract in response to market opportunities and regulatory constraints. This durable elastic structure developed over many years as entrepreneurs built their enterprises through personal contacts, repeated exchanges, and resources they accumulated gradually. They drew on socioeconomic traditions, such as contraband smuggling, that extended far back into Colombia's colonial past. Nodes in Colombian drug trafficking networks consist of individuals and groups. Some nodes, such as brokers who facilitate transactions between various parties, are individuals; others, including smuggling rings and distribution cells that transport and sell drugs, are composed of several individuals who function as a unit. These social networks of individuals and groups are embedded within and across larger organizational networks. In contrast to centralized hierarchies that feature tight interactions between units and formal decisionmaking hierarchies (cartels), social networks decentralize decisionmaking authority and rely on brokers and intermediaries to buffer entrepreneurs themselves from direct complicity in criminal activity. The Colombian National Police has currently targeted more than 300 "kingpins" for capture, an indication that the cartel concept was flawed from the beginning. 52 notes
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Cocaine; Colombia; Drug smuggling; Foreign drug law enforcement; Organization development; Organization studies; Transnational Crime; Transnational Organized Crime
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.