Projects’ results are expected to contribute to some or all of the following outcomes:
- Improved and complete intelligence picture of security practitioners and policy-makers on drug production and trafficking, such as modus operandi, both offline and online, including the whole chain of trade, cross-border dimension, new trends, prevention of illicit drug market, new drugs, internet, including darknet, monitoring of drugs, financial flows of the related profits, etc.;
- European Police and Border Guards Authorities benefit from better, modern and validated tools (including the lawful court-proof collection of crime evidence) and training materials to tackle criminal activities related to drugs, such as monitoring of internet, including darknet;
- Enhanced ability of security practitioners to identify organised criminal groups involved in drug production and trafficking at an early stage;
- Enhanced ability of security practitioners and policy-makers to prevent the emergence of organised crime networks related to drugs, and respond to the threat of existing organisations, while respecting fundamental rights;
- Improved monitoring of dual-use chemicals used to drugs production;
- European Police and Border Guards Authorities benefit from improved strategies of cooperation in fighting drug trafficking and dismantling related criminal networks;
- Security policy makers are better supported in analysing the features of the drug trade and the business models underlying it, and the policy regulation related to the fight against drug production and trafficking is enhanced.
Drug trafficking and drug production are the most profitable criminal activity of organised crime groups active in Europe. According to the 2019 EU Drug Markets Report, the total value of the retail market for illicit drugs in the EU was estimated at EUR 30 billion. There is a need for a comprehensive complete intelligence picture of this type of crime.
In the following, two main priorities in security research and innovation in this area are indicated. Firstly, innovative methods are needed to inquire into developments in the illicit drug market, especially on prevention and new drugs (their production, marketing and distribution). Secondly, internet, including darknet, monitoring as regards drugs has not been sufficiently addressed by innovative approaches until now. As stated by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), it is worth mentioning that over 100 global darknet markets are known to have existed for varying lengths of time since 2010 when the phenomenon emerged, that illicit drugs have been and continue to be the backbone of most darknet markets (drugs are important, but they share space with other illicit goods), and that two thirds of darknet markets content is known to be drug-related.
While vendor and customer interactions are relatively well studied and understood, there is a need for innovative approaches aimed at improving currently limited knowledge regarding the actors and mechanisms involved in this trade beyond the distribution/sales phase in the drug trafficking chain. Knowledge gaps also remain in relation to the extent of involvement of traditional organised crime in the darknet trade in illicit drugs. Then, gaps exist in the knowledge of the financial flows related to the profits from darknet market platforms.
Activities proposed within this topic should address both societal and technological dimensions of drug trafficking and drug production in a balanced way, taking care of the applicable legislation and fundamental rights. As the organised crime groups involved are practically fully interconnected, the international dimension should be analysed as well, hence both Police and Border Guards Authorities should be involved in the consortia, in order to tackle effectively all aspects of this crime, such as cross-border drugs smuggling.
Coordination with successful proposals under topic HORIZON-CL3-2021-FCT-01-08, HORIZON-CL3-2021-FCT-01-09, HORIZON-CL3-2021-FCT-01-10, HORIZON-CL3-2022-FCT-01-05 and HORIZON-CL3-2022-FCT-01-07 should be envisaged so as to avoid duplication and to exploit complementarities as well as opportunities for increased impact. Proposed activities that could also link with security research for border management (e.g., border checks or detection of concealed objects) would be an asset. Due to the specific scope of this topic, in order to achieve the expected outcomes, international cooperation is encouraged.
In this topic the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content should be addressed only if the consortium deems it relevant in relation to the objectives of the research effort.
23 November 2022
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