Local Retail Drug market in Antwerp (LODA)

Research Period

1 February 2012 – 31 December 2012


SODA – City of Antwerp



Key Words

Local, qualitative, case study


In 2007, the city of Antwerp decided to create a Drug and Alcohol Monitor in order to meet the lack of reliable and relevant data required to create an appropriate drug policy. Because of this, a method to collect data regarding drugs and dependency issues in a continuous and long term way was created. Because of some considerations after the research periods of 2007 and 2010, the focus was narrowed down. Due to  the quick succession of the measurements, the views were limited and the general focus generated too few concrete points of department for the urban drug policy. With LODA (Local Retail drug market in Antwerp), the researchers chose for a qualitative case study that examines the lowest levels of the local drug market: the retail drug market in cannabis, cocaine, heroin, XTC and amphetamines. The research focusses on small scale dealers that operate as self-employed persons working in an illicit market. Higher levels such as wholesale, import and organized crime are not treated in this edition.

Research objectives

As the systematic and continuous data collection is no longer performed, the research cannot be called a monitor any longer. However, in this case study we will be able to form a detailed image of an unmistakeable part of the local drug market. The hypothesis that the illicit drug market is dominated by the organized crime is not supported by scientific research. Apart from the hierarchic organized crime networkers, it is said that there is a so called ‘free market’. The city of Antwerp lacks insight into this retail market, which is dominated by street dealers. In a concrete manner, the research aims at answering the following research questions:

  1. What profiles and common background characteristics can be attributed to the retail sellers of the illicit local drug market in Antwerp?
  2. How is the illicit local retail market in Antwerp organized and how do dealers operate?
  3. What are the measures against the retail market of illicit drugs in Antwerp and what effects (intended and unintended) do these activities have on the retail sellers and the local illicit retail market in general?


LODA is perceived as a qualitative case study in which a triangulation of research methods is used. Apart from a literature review, qualitative in-depth interviews will be taken from  different key actors in the field (law enforcement, justice, treatment services, users,…). If possible a few street dealers will be interviewed. Next, there will be an analysis of relevant files (judicial and police level). Finally, fieldwork will be done in order to collect ethnographic field notes .


  • D'HUYVETTER, E. & DECORTE, T. (2014). Low-level drug distribution in Antwerp: a case-study. In J. FOUNTAIN, M. WOUTERS & D.J. KORF. Snapshots of social drug research in Europe (pp. 19-21). Lengerich: Pabst Science Publishers.
  • DECORTE, T. & D'HUYVETTER, E. (2013). Lokale detailhandel in drugs in
    Antwerpen. Een exploratief onderzoek. Drugmonitor 2012-2013. Antwerpen: SODA/OCMW Antwerpen.
  • D'HUYVETTER, E. (2012). Low level drug distribution in Antwerp - a case study. Paper presented at the 23rd ESSD Conference, Athens (Greece), 4-6 October 2012.