Is being a drug courier worth it?

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A typology of drug smuggling ‘technologies’ is developed based on interviews with 110 inmates incarcerated in UK prisons for importing illegal drugs. Approximately three-quarters were involved in courier-based operations. The other 30 collectively accounted for substantially greater smuggling throughput capacity and fell into five groups: operations employing ‘bent’ lorry drivers; shipping drugs intermingled with legitimate commerce; transporting drugs on commercial airlines with assistance from corrupt officials; mailing drugs into the UK; and smuggling via boats landing between ports of entry. A Pareto Law seems to apply, with a minority of respondents being responsible for the majority of the smuggling. Most participated in smuggling to make money, but more than a few couriers reported being coerced and/or tricked into carrying drugs. Perhaps not coincidentally, rough calculations suggest that, when balancing profits against prison risk, crime does not pay for couriers but can for organizations employing bent lorry drivers.

Source: “How illegal drugs enter an island country: insights from interviews with incarcerated smugglers” from Global Crime, Volume 10, Issue 1 & 2 February 2009 , pages 66 – 93

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