Case Study

Targeted investigation into pharmaceutical products being illegally diverted in the Middle East

Iraq, Middle East



We were approached by a multinational pharmaceutical corporation to support a probe into the smuggling of pharmaceuticals into Iraq from a neighbouring country. The client sought to determine whether local distributors or pharmacies were involved, how pharmaceuticals were being diverted, and recommendations to prevent it from happening again. First, we engaged a human source handler with extensive experience interviewing sources in the region. The handler then compiled a list of suitable sources who were knowledgeable about the subject and then interviewed. To compliment and corroborate our human source findings, we carried out open and closed source searches to identify whether any local reporting/social media discussed the issue, as well as see if there had been any previous instances by the relevant parties.

The investigation revealed that illegal diversion was occurring for several key reasons. We also found that the client became a bigger target for illegal diversion because many of the relevant drugs were unavailable in Iraq. One significant finding was that smuggling of pharmaceuticals was a nationwide problem in that jurisdiction. Our human sources also identified the means of transportation and two specific smuggling routes.

Outcomes for the client

  • The client felt confident in their ability to prove both the existence of and means of how their products were being illegally diverted.
  • Identifying the main causes of the diversion and why the client posed a bigger target than others.
  • Importantly, the client was informed of a number of potential remedial measures that may be taken to stop the smuggling of their products.
  • Establishing a new risk management road map with new safeguards to assist in implementing the client's overall strategy in country.

Project leads

Amber Meadows
Associate, Threat Intelligence
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Laura Hawkes
Head of Intelligence
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