This article is devoted to analysing the ways in which African migrants are involved in the market for illegal drugs in Italy. In particular, it focuses on the lowest levels of the market, suggesting an interpretation of how the immigrants in question are located on the demand side (as consumers) and on the supply side (as dealers). Although it considers the statistics available from criminal trial and from the social services, the article concentrates on empirical evidence unearthed by the author in the course of several years of qualitative r esearch in the field. Actually, the passages cited in the first part of the essay refer to ethnographic experience in the contexts of drug dealing and on-street consumption, to biographical research of individuals sentenced for drug offences and to interviews conducted with professionals and technical staff working in the field of control and therapeutic treatment. These texts offer meanin gful input from a descriptive and interpretative standpoint. The second part of the essay is then devoted to linking this to certain frameworks of sociocriminological theory, in an attempt to propose an overall configuration for the field of enquiry.
Keywords: Drugs - Criminalisation - Market - Immigration - Prison - Control