Should the DEA's STRIDE data be used for economic analyses of markets for illegal drugs?

Joel L. Horowitz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The United States Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA's) System to Retrieve Information from Drug Evidence (STRIDE) data contain records of acquisitions of illegal drugs by undercover agents and informants of the DEA and Metropolitan Police of the District of Columbia. These data are widely used in economic analyses of markets for illegal drugs. The STRIDE data are mainly records of acquisitions made to support criminal investigations and are not a random sample of an identifiable population. This article presents evidence that the STRIDE data on cocaine and heroin prices are not representative of market prices for those drugs. Specifically, there are large differences among price estimates obtained from different subsets of STRIDE. It is concluded that STRIDE is not a reliable source of price data for economic and policy analyses that require accurate measures of price levels and variations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1254-1262
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Statistical Association
Issue number456
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001


  • Cocaine
  • Data quality
  • Heroin
  • Price index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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