Law enforcement is always looking at ways to make sure drugs aren’t coming into the country and into your neighborhood. Agencies are now turning to artificial intelligence to help keep us safe, especially on the southern border. That’s where Border Patrol agents found nearly 99% of the fentanyl smuggled into the United States.
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Representation of data being disseminated (Kurt "CyberGuy" Knutsson)
A drug like fentanyl can be nearly impossible to find just by using orthodox methods. To help, the government is expanding a $9 million contract given to global supply chain start-up platform Altana to use an AI tool to track fentanyl production.
Image of data on computer screen (Kurt "CyberGuy" Knutsson)
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How AI is used to track fentanyl production
Altana uses artificial intelligence to track companies that make ingredients used to make fentanyl. It also tracks where those ingredients are shipped to. Agents can then use that information to shut down both the production and distribution networks of the deadly synthetic opioid.
The company incorporates all of that information in a knowledge map that’s constantly growing. While we don’t know exactly how Altana tracks those companies, it does show the relationship between suppliers and manufacturers. It even shows billions of transactions. It works very similarly to the startup’s efforts to track goods that were made using forced labor.
Image of barbed wire (Kurt "CyberGuy" Knutsson)
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How AI is helping border patrol seize fentanyl, arrest traffickers
Border Patrol has seen results using the AI technology. According to Customs and Border Protection reports, agents have carried out two massive missions since contracting Altana in July.
One resulted in 13,000 pounds of ingredients used in fentanyl production being seized. Agents arrested 284 people and seized 10,000 pounds of fentanyl in another.
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Kurt’s key takeaways
The fact that Altana can create an ever-growing map charting suppliers and manufacturers using public data is mind-blowing. That’s something that would be ridiculously hard to achieve without AI and would also require massive amounts of manpower. Plus, we’re already seeing results. But, I have to wonder if this can be exploited. Can fentanyl manufacturers and distributors get this information? If so, how would they use it? Is there even a use for them?
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