Illicit Drug Trafficking 9
Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Myanmar, and Brunei. A nota-
ble exception is the drug methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, or
“ecstasy”). Typically placed in the ATS category, this substance is known
for having both stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. Illicit production of
MDMA occurs in clandestine labs in Western and Central Europe (Lyman,
2011; United Nations, 2015).
From the clandestine lab sources in North America, Southeast Asia, and
Europe, methamphetamine and ATS drugs are moved to markets world-
wide. Major markets include the United States, Western European nations,
China, and Oceanic countries, notably Australia. In recent years, substan-
tial rises in seizures have occurred in Western and Central Africa, as well
as Southwest Asia, including Iran, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan
(United Nations, 2015). These seizures are thought to indicate that these
countries are being used for transshipment of ATS between source and
The methods of transshipment of methamphetamine and ATS are simi-
lar to that of cocaine and heroin, given that it is relatively compact. How-
ever, the solubility of methamphetamine in liquids also gives traffickers
the ability to conceal the drug in liquid form, such as in water bottles, soft
drinks, or even in candles (U.S. Department of Justice, 2015).
Traffickers are known to use a variety of methods for moving illicit sub-
stances from their source to their ultimate markets. These transshipment
methods can be highly tailored to the substance being transported, the
quantity or size of the transshipment load, distance between source and
market, and can vary by trafficking organization. In discussing the vari-
ety of transshipment methods, it may be useful to categorize such meth-
ods into maritime trafficking, overland trafficking, and air trafficking.
This section of the chapter presents the most common methods of traffick-
ing and transshipment in each of these categories. However, it should be
noted that such methods and their prevalence are prone to change over
time, as drug trafficking organizations have demonstrated flexibility and
adaptability as circumstances dictate and as law enforcement pressures
Maritime Trafficking
Maritime drug trafficking involves the shipment of illicit substances
either concealed within legitimate cargo or clandestinely shipped in pri-
vate vessels as the primary cargo (Aune, 1990). The movement of drugs
through maritime channels reaches as far back as the smuggling of opium
into the United States from China in the 19th century (DEA: Air, Land, &
Sea, 2016) but has grown substantially in scope and sophistication. Today,
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