How an ABM approach could aid in obstructing illicit trafficking networks and strengthen US drug policy

The study, released online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center.

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A recent study by the University of Wyoming dug into the U.S. Government’s response to the trafficking of narcotics in Central America through the development of a spatially explicit agent-based model.

According to the findings: “The US government’s cocaine interdiction mission in the transit zone of Central America is now in its fifth decade despite its long-demonstrated ineffectiveness, both in cost and results.”

“We developed a model that builds an interdisciplinary understanding of the structure and function of narco-trafficking networks and their coevolution with interdiction efforts as a complex adaptive system,” the findings state.

“The model produced realistic predictions of where and when narco-traffickers move in and around Central America in response to interdiction. The model demonstrated that narco-trafficking is as widespread and difficult to eradicate as it is because of interdiction, and increased interdiction will continue to spread traffickers into new areas, allowing them to continue to move drugs north.”

The recently developed ABM provides a vigorous assessment of various drug policy scenarios and its potential effect on trafficking behavior, in addition to collateral damages synonymous with narco-fueled violence and corruption.

“A better understanding of the root causes of narco-trafficking dynamics and interdiction ineffectiveness within the transit zone is needed to inform US drug policy,” the co-authors inferred in their findings.

The study, released online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center.

© Image courtesy of Wikimedia

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