A Resource-Constrained Optimal Control Model for Crackdown on Illicit Drug Markets

A. Baveja, G. Feichtinger, R.F. Hartl, J.L. Haunschmied, P.M. Kort

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In this paper we present a budget-constrained optimal control model aimed at finding the optimal enforcement profile for a street-level, illicit drug crackdown operation. The objective is defined as minimizing the number of dealers dealing at the end of the crackdown operation, using this as a surrogate measure of residual criminal activity. Analytical results show that optimal enforcement policy will invariably use the budget resources completely. Numerical analysis using realistic estimates of parameters shows that crackdowns normally lead to significant results within a matter of a week, and if they do not, it is likely that they will be offering very limited success even if pursued for a much longer duration. We also show that a ramp-up enforcement policy will be most effective in collapsing a drug market if the drug dealers are risk-seeking, and the policy of using maximum enforcement as early as possible is usually optimal in the case when the dealers are risk averse or risk neutral. The work then goes on to argue that the underlying model has some general characteristics that are both reasonable and intuitive, allowing possible applications in focussed, local enforcement operations on other similar illegal activities.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 1999

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • crackdown enforcement
  • illicit drug markets
  • optimal control


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