Cops, Fentanyl, and AI

Police line

( – A new report indicates that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming a tool for good when it comes to combating the smuggling of drugs like fentanyl into the United States and extends the long arm of the law by helping secure U.S. borders.

Certainly, the near-total discovery of fentanyl at the southern border indicates the critical nature of this issue.

The government’s $9 million contract with Altana, a global supply chain startup, leverages AI to enhance drug interdiction efforts.

Altana’s AI tool is designed to track the production of fentanyl by monitoring companies involved in manufacturing its ingredients and the movement of these ingredients. This approach allows Border Patrol agents to target not just individual shipments but the broader production and distribution networks of fentanyl.

Altana’s knowledge map, which details relationships between suppliers and manufacturers and tracks billions of transactions, demonstrates the power of AI in comprehending complex supply chains. This system mirrors Altana’s previous efforts in identifying goods produced through forced labor.

The effectiveness of this AI technology is evidenced by the results reported by Customs and Border Protection. Since employing Altana’s services in July, significant quantities of fentanyl and its precursor ingredients have been seized, and numerous arrests have been made.

However, this innovative use of AI also raises concerns about potential exploitation.

If the details of Altana’s tracking capabilities were to become accessible to fentanyl producers and distributors, there’s uncertainty about how this information might be used. They could potentially adapt their operations to evade detection, necessitating constant updates and refinements to the AI system.

The use of AI in drug interdiction exemplifies the balance between technological advancement and operational security.

While AI significantly enhances the ability to track and disrupt illegal drug networks, maintaining the confidentiality of these methods is crucial to ensure their ongoing effectiveness. As such, law enforcement agencies must continually evolve their strategies and tools to stay ahead of sophisticated smuggling operations.