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Drug Intelligence Estimates

Drug Intelligence Estimates


The National Drug Intelligence Estimate (NDIE), an annual publication of Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) from 1985 until 1994, identified trends in drug abuse and centers of drug trafficking. NDIE grew out of the realization that illegal drug production, use, and transit affects all countries and that effective international cooperation required an exchange of information. NDIE received wide distribution within Canada and among those countries officially recognized by Canada.

As the Cold War wound down in the 1980s, new elements in the international drug trade emerged at the same time that significant intelligence resources in Western countries became available to combat drug trafficking. The rise in both the supply of drugs and the number of traffickers combined with the reduction of international hostilities to open the possibility of increased international anti-drug trade cooperation. Accordingly, in 1984, the United Nations General Assembly pushed member countries to strengthen and enhance international cooperation in criminal matters relating to the illegal traffic in narcotic drugs. Canada responded to this call by creating NDIE.

The RCMP received the assignment to assemble and distribute NDIE because it is the Canadian agency that is charged with enforcing the nation's drug control laws by apprehending those individuals and organizations involved in illicit drug activities. The Strategic Analysis Branch of the RCMP's Drug Enforcement Directorate produced NDIE as well as regular digests of drug trends and a series of special reports on such matters as money laundering, outlaw motorcycle gangs and aerial cocaine smuggling into Canada. The publications worked together to provide law enforcement personnel with an accurate picture of Canada's relationship to the international drug trade. The RCMP distributed NDIE to all federal departments concerned with drug law enforcement. Provincial and local drug enforcement units also received copies of the estimate, as did RCMP liaison officers stationed at Canadian embassies who shared the information with their host countries.

NDIE revealed a number of trends in drug smuggling. It reported that while some drugs are produced and consumed domestically, much of the drug trade flowed from developing to developed nations. It predicted that drug incidents involving former citizens of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European allies would increase because the collapse of these countries had left the residents in desperate economic straits and vulnerable to exploitation by both domestic and foreign drug trafficking groups. NDIE identified three threats relating to these ex-communist countries: 1) the shipment of Colombian cocaine to Eastern Europe and then to the West; 2) the increased cultivation of opium in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia and its manufacture into heroin and subsequent shipment through Baltic ports; and 3) the production of amphetamines in places like Poland and their distribution to the West.

Heroin, the illegal narcotic of choice in most of the world and a drug increasing in popularity in the 1990s, received particular attention. NDIE indicated that heroin from Southwestern Asia supplied between twenty and forty percent of the Canadian market in the mid and late 1980s, a rate that rose to 65% in the early 1990s. In 1993, the last year of the estimate, Canadian police seized 154 kilograms of heroin, a 30% increase over seizures in 1992. Record seizures were made in Vancouver and Toronto, which joined Montreal as major centers of heroin trafficking and abuse. The primary heroin entry points into Canada were identified as Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver.

In the wake of the Cold War, many intelligence agencies redefined their role to include the international drug trade as a major concern along with terrorism and nuclear proliferation. NDIE helped to change the view of the drug trade by identifying it as a global concern that could only be changed by international anti-crime cooperation.



Lee, James. "Drugs and Drug Trafficking." November 1996. <> (April 7, 2003).

Stamler, R.T., R.C. Fahlman and G.W. Clement. "Co-operation Between Canada and Other Countries and Territories to Promote Countermeasures against Illicit Drug Trafficking." United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Bulletin on Narcotics. January 1, 1987. <> (April 7, 2003).


Canada, Intelligence and Security
Cold War (19721989): The Collapse of the Soviet Union

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