The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Global Security Studies

Living Edition
| Editors: Scott Romaniuk, Manish Thapa, Péter Marton


  • William PattersonEmail author
Living reference work entry


Smuggling is the illicit transport of materials or persons across legally constituted borders or boundaries. A wide variety of goods are or can be smuggled, from tobacco products to nuclear material to human beings. The motives for smuggling are equally diverse. Some people smuggle to avoid taxation, this is especially the case with tobacco and alcohol, while others smuggle because the item itself is illegal, as with drugs or nuclear material. States may engage in smuggling in order to avoid internationally applied sanctions or to obfuscate clandestine activities, such as the development of weapons programs. Human smugglers typically seek to benefit financially either by profiting from the facilitation of illegal migration or through the exploitation of the people within their power as either sex workers or underpaid laborers.


Smuggling adversely impacts both human security and state security in a variety of ways, depending upon the particular form under...


Smuggling Trafficking Drugs Nuclear material Human trafficking Sanctions Violations 
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Brian, T., & Laczko, F. (Eds.). (2014). Fatal journeys: Tracking lives lost during migration. Geneva: International Organization for Migration.Google Scholar
  2. Green, D. (2016). The trump hypothesis: Testing immigrant populations as a determinant of violent and drug-related crime in the United States. Social Science Quarterly, 97(3), 506–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Kobach, K. W. (2008). Reinforcing the rule of law: What states can and should do to reduce illegal immigration. Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, 22, 459–483.Google Scholar
  4. Lee, R. (2006). Nuclear smuggling, rogue states and terrorists. China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly, 4(2), 25–32.Google Scholar
  5. Lee, M. T., Martinez, R., Jr. (2009). Immigration reduces crime: An emerging scholarly consensus. Immigration, crime, and justice (Sociology of crime, law, and deviance, Vol. 13, pp. 3–16). Bradford: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. MacCalman, M. (2016). A.Q. Khan nuclear smuggling network. Journal of Strategic Security, 9, 1, Special Issue Spring 2016: Designing Danger: Complex Engineering by Violent Non-State Actors, 104–118.Google Scholar
  7. United Nations General Assembly, S/2017,742, 05 September 2017, Downloaded from: On 02 Nov 2018.
  8. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Drug Report 2017. Downloaded from: On 19 Feb 2018.
  9. Zaitseva, L., & Hand, K. (2003). Nuclear smuggling chains. American Behavioral Scientist, 46(6), 822–844.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Further Reading

  1. Andreas, P. (2005). Criminalizing consequences of sanctions: Embargo busting and its legacy. International Studies Quarterly, 49, 335–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bhagwati, J., & Hansen, B. (1973). A theoretical analysis of smuggling. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 87(2), 172–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Buxton, J. (2006). The political economy of narcotics: Production, consumption and global markets. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  4. Channing, M. (2017). Transnational crime and the developing world. Global Financial Integrity. Downloaded from: On 19 Feb 2018.
  5. Chestnut, S. (2007). Illicit activity and proliferation. International Security, 32(1), 80–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Frantz, D., & Collins, C. (2007). The nuclear jihadist: The true story of the man who sold the world’s most dangerous secrets – And how we could have stopped him. New York: Twelve.Google Scholar
  7. Leiken, R. S., & Brooke, S. (2006). The quantitative analysis of terrorism and immigration: An initial exploration. Terrorism and Political Violence, 18(4), 503–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Thachuk, K. (Ed.). (2007). Transnational threats: Smuggling and trafficking in arms, drugs, and human life. Westport: Praeger Security International.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.US Department of StateWashingtonUSA