E-Monitoring the narco supply chain


Papaver somniferum, Afghanistan Poppy fieldThe issue of the international market in prohibited narcotics was the subject of a conference in Vienna earlier this month and there was a direct focus on the targeting of precursor chemicals used in the manufacturing of heroin.

The two-day conference in Vienna, which was organised by the OSCE, focussed on the need for cross-border co-operation and an international strategy to tackle the production and trafficking of narcotics directly. It included a session dedicated to the trade in chemicals used in the production of heroin and how this might be tackled through the monitoring of the supply chain associated to these otherwise legal products.

In March of this year, former Assistant Administrator and Chief of Intelligence at the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Anthony Placido, addressed the issue of product supply chains directly, stating

“In an era of fiscal austerity, government agencies must look beyond the criminals and contraband itself, as well as carefully examine and target the business processes that are used to produce, store, transport, distribute, and sell these illicit commodities”.

The DEA has been using a piece of software developed by e-SupplyLink to monitor incoming orders of chemicals associated with the production of narcotics. This system cross references orders made with a list of substances known to be used in the manufacturing of illicit narcotics and then stores the order to track ordering frequency, patterns and quantities. Those customers with no order history are limited in the quantities available to them. Following the third order by a customer, the system is able to start building a customer profile and any suspicious ordering activity is then flagged.

The e-SupplyLink system allows anti-narcotic agencies to attack the trade in drugs from both ends; tackling the distribution of the end user product and the manufacturing process used to produce narcotics for market.


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