Channeling Contraband: How States Shape International Smuggling Routes
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Although smuggling is commonly assumed to happen in remote and difficult-to-access borderlands, in reality, smuggling is most prevalent in areas that states tightly control, including at formal border crossings. To understand this puzzle, this article explores the relationship between states and smugglers at international borders. Based on extensive empirical research in various borderlands in North Africa and Southeast Asia, it argues that different kinds of smugglers prefer different types of relationships with the state. The article outlines six ideal types of such relationships. It contends that these types of relationships are the dominant factor in how different smuggling networks choose routes along a border. The findings have implications for our understanding of smuggling and policies that aim at addressing smuggling, especially regarding the effects of border fortifications and corruption prevention.