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Researching a Local Heroin Market as a Complex Adaptive System

  • Lee D. HofferEmail author
  • Georgiy Bobashev
  • Robert J. Morris
Original Paper

Abstract

This project applies agent-based modeling (ABM) techniques to better understand the operation, organization, and structure of a local heroin market. The simulation detailed was developed using data from an 18-month ethnographic case study. The original research, collected in Denver, CO during the 1990s, represents the historic account of users and dealers who operated in the Larimer area heroin market. Working together, the authors studied the behaviors of customers, private dealers, street-sellers, brokers, and the police, reflecting the core elements pertaining to how the market operated. After evaluating the logical consistency between the data and agent behaviors, simulations scaled-up interactions to observe their aggregated outcomes. While the concept and findings from this study remain experimental, these methods represent a novel way in which to understand illicit drug markets and the dynamic adaptations and outcomes they generate. Extensions of this research perspective, as well as its strengths and limitations, are discussed.

Keywords

Illegal drug markets Ethnographic research Complex adaptive systems Applied social simulation modeling 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge support for this research from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Drug Abuse, R21 DA019476.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lee D. Hoffer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Georgiy Bobashev
    • 2
  • Robert J. Morris
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  2. 2.RTI InternationalResearch Triangle ParkUSA

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