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Narcotics Scanner Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis, By Product (Handheld/Portable, Scanner, and Fixed Scanner), By Technology (Contraband Detection Equipment, Infrared Spectroscopy, Ion Mobility Spectrum Technology, and Video Scope Inspection System), By End User (Airport, Sea Port, Railway Terminal, Law Enforcement, Defense & Military, and Others), and Regional Forecast, 2021 – 2028

Region : Global | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI104053



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The global narcotics scanner market size was USD 6.20 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow from USD 6.32 billion in 2021 to USD 9.92 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 6.64% in the 2021-2028 period. Based on the analysis, the global market exhibited a low growth of 1.3% in 2020 compared to the average year-on-year growth during 2017-2019. The global impact of COVID-19 has been unmatched and staggering, with narcotics scanners witnessing a low demand across all the regions amid the pandemic. 


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A narcotics scanner is a programmed security device to detect contraband drugs and other hazardous substances. This device utilizes a mass spectrometer or AI-powered detection algorithms to detect narcotics and avoid trafficking or the entrance of prohibited materials into a sovereign state or country. Nowadays, the worldwide fight against illegal drugs and other hazardous materials has been embattled by various organizations, such as border and customs control agencies, airports, ports, courier services, and prison authorities. The growing cargo trade by air and sea has given a new lease of life worldwide to narcotics and weapon trafficking activities. This factor has led to an increase in the demand and adoption of these scanners to prevent illicit activities and enhance security.

Decreased Air Passenger Traffic and Cargo Transportation amid COVID-19 to Decline Growth

The pandemic situation has resulted in restrictions on international trade activities and traveling. The disruption that occurred in the logistics and transportation industry due to the COVID-19 outbreak has created a moderate impact on unauthorized drug transportation worldwide.

  • According to UNODC, the export business in China fell by 17.2% during the early months of 2020 compared to 2019.

The decrease in drug smuggling activities has resulted in reduced demand for narcotics scanners in 2020 compared to 2019. In addition to this, the contraction in drug demand has been witnessed due to decreased opium drug production. Low production has created a huge impact on the drug use count. Moreover, reduced air passenger traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic has decreased the demand for new airport scanners.

  • Afghanistan is one of the leading opium producers, accounting for 82% of the global opium production. The reduction in opium production amid COVID-19 is resulting in the limited availability of opium drugs across the world. According to UNODC’s released report on COVID-19 and the drug supply chain in 2020, the cultivation of opium in Afghanistan has been reduced during the pandemic. This resulted in reduced demand for opium. A decrease in drug consumption is expected to create a significant impact on the demand for scanners amid COVID-19.

  • According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), domestic air passenger traffic in the US and China fell by 59.6% and 30.8%, respectively, in 2020 compared to 2019.

However, the increasing focus on improving security at public transportation to prevent illicit acts is expected to overcome the pandemic's impact on the narcotics scanner market at a higher speed during the forecast period.


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Technological Advancement in Narcotics Scanning System to Propel Market Potentiality

In recent years, there is an enormous growth in the production and distribution of illegal drugs. The surging violation of drug control acts worldwide would drive the demand for advanced narcotics scanning systems and software with high accuracy and faster screening capability.

Key scanner manufacturers and R&D teams mainly focus on developing portable, pocket-sized, mobile narcotics scanners with real-time data detection and user-friendly data analysis software. These key players are also focusing on adopting advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), dual sensor technology, image processing, and X-ray technologies to enhance product performance.

  • For instance, in April 2021, Smiths Detection Group Ltd. introduced the new AI algorithms iCMORE in HI-SCAN 10080 XCT Scanner, which provides efficient and time-saving automatic detection of dangerous and contraband goods, lithium batteries, and weapons.


Rising Transnational Crimes across the World to Surge Demand for Narcotics Scanners

In recent years, the transnational crime rate has highly increased in developed and developing countries. The international crimes covered several of them, such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, counterfeiting, and weapons trafficking. Among these, counterfeiting and drug trafficking crimes account for large revenue generation. According to the Global Financial Integrity Organization, the transnational crimes business is valued at around USD 1.6 trillion to USD 2.2 trillion annually.

Moreover, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC’s) world drug report released in 2020, 269 million people worldwide had used drugs in 2018. The number of drug users has increased by 30% compared to 2009. As the number of drug users worldwide is increasing, the cultivation, trade, and consumption of opium, a synthetic drug, cannabis, heroin, and cocaine is also rising. This factor would lead to an increase in the demand for such scanners worldwide to prevent and reduce illicit drug flows.

Stringent Government Regulations to Control Illegal Drug Trade to Boost Market Growth

The constantly growing drug trafficking activities worldwide have increased the death count and the number of people who suffer from drug use disorder. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and the Global Burden of Disease Study, the death reported due to the overdoses of opioids was 109,520 during 1990-2017. They have also estimated that the number of deaths will increase at a rapid pace in the upcoming years.

Moreover, around 35.6 million people worldwide suffer from illicit drug use disorder, as per the recent World Drug Report. The United Nations Office published this report on Drugs and Crime in 2020. Therefore, the government has imposed several rules and regulations to reduce the illegal drug trade, drug production and consumption, and death caused due to drug overdoses. In addition to this, the rising investment to control illegitimate drug activities is expected to support market growth during the forecast period.

  • In 2020, the European Commission adopted the EU Drugs Strategy 2021-2025 to prioritize drug trade action. The primary aim of the EU Drugs Strategy 2021-2025 is to improve and protect the well-being of the country and the individual, protect and promote public health, provide a high level of security and well-being for the general public, and increase health literacy.

  • The Government of India enacted legislative policies related to illegal drug control, such as the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, of 1985, the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs, and the Psychotropic Substances Act, of 1988.

  • The Federal Government has requested a USD 35.1 billion budget for national drug control for 2020. The primary aim of this budget is to reduce narcotics drug use and associated crimes in the U.S.

The improvement in the public transport security infrastructure backed by government investments, supportive market programs, and regulations would contribute to market growth.


Substitutes Such as Drones and Robotics for Drug Trafficking are a Major Challenge for the Market

The demand for drones is on the rise across multiple end-use industries worldwide. The rising adoption of drones, in turn, increases the illegal activities associated with them. Nowadays, a drone is a trending method for narcotics drug trafficking across the U.S.- Mexico border and India, and other developing and developed countries. In December 2020, Punjab police arrested two people for using a drone for the cross-border trafficking of weapons and narcotics. Therefore, the rising use of a drone for violating drug control status is a major challenge for key market players. This factor is expected to create a hindrance to market growth.


By Product Analysis

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Fixed Scanner Segment Dominated Market in 2020

Based on the product, the market is divided into handheld/portable scanners, fixed scanners, and walkthrough scanners.

The handheld/portable scanner segment is projected to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period. This growth is due to the rising demand for lightweight, user-friendly, and portable scanners from several end-users, such as law enforcement, the police force, malls, and customs departments. Handheld scanners are widely used at checkpoints or during screening.

The fixed scanner segment held a significant narcotics scanner market share in 2020. This large share is attributed to the increased adoption of scanners for baggage, cargo, and vehicle screening applications. The continuously expanding logistics and transportation industry worldwide is expected to support market growth during the forecast period.

The walkthrough scanner segment registered the second-highest share in the base years due to the increased number of international and domestic travelers globally. With the growing traveler count, the demand for walkthrough narcotics scanners is also increasing for passenger screening.

By Technology Analysis

Contraband Detection Equipment Segment to Grow at Faster Pace During Forecast Period

Based on technology, the market is classified into contraband detection equipment, infrared spectroscopy, ion mobility spectrum technology, and video scope inspection system.

The contraband technology segment is predicted to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period due to the surge in the demand for narcotics and contraband detection by the border, prison, law enforcement, and customs officers to control untheorized drug transportation. Contraband detection technology-based equipment offers the detection of drugs, drug traces, explosives, and other hazardous materials.

By End User Analysis

Growing Narcotics Drug Trade via Sea to Boost Demand for New Narcotics Scanners at Seaports

Based on the end-user, the market is divided into airport, seaport, railway terminal, law enforcement, defense & military, and others.

The airport end-user segment is expected to dominate the market during the forecast period. Airport authorities invested a significant amount in the regular maintenance and procurement of security systems. Therefore, the exponential growth in air passenger traffic and the development of new airports in emerging countries are anticipated to boost the adoption of narcotics scanners for airport security. In addition to this, the growing air cargo trade would also increase the demand for advanced scanner systems for quick inspection.  

The seaport end-user segment is anticipated to grow at a high CAGR throughout the forecast period. The growing adoption of sea routes for drug smuggling due to stringent airport regulations is expected to increase the installation of new scanners to enhance seaport security. Smiths Detection Group Ltd., for instance, has designed a Gantry inspection system called HCVG X-ray system. This system utilizes a single scan to inspect a complete cargo-loaded vehicle for a threat, such as narcotics, contraband, weapons, and explosives. It is mainly designed to be used at maritime ports, border crossings, and airports.

Moreover, the demand for these scanners also increased to enhance security at railway terminals, government buildings, country, state, district border and checkpoints, law enforcement, sports club, malls, and public transportation, excluding airport, port, and railways.


North America Narcotics Scanner Market Size, 2020 (USD Billion)

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The global narcotics scanner market is segmented into regions, namely, North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the rest of the world.

North America stood at USD 2.55 billion in 2020 and is expected to dominate the market owing to the highest drug use in the region. Countries in North America, such as the U.S. and Mexico, have observed and reported the most increased illegal drug use activities. According to the UNODC's World Drug Report 2019, North America has been declared the topmost region with the highest use of opioids. Moreover, the U.S. reported 47,000 deaths in 2017 due to the overdose of an opioid. Therefore, to reduce deaths due to drug overdose, the adoption of these scanners has increased in North America.

Asia Pacific registered the second-highest share in the base year and is projected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period. The rising illicit drug production and trade in Asia countries, such as China, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and others would help the region to grow. In 2017, Asia Pacific accounted for around 90% of the total illicit opium produced. Afghanistan is the largest opium producer in the world. In addition to this, China and India are witnessing major sea trade and the development of new airports due to increased air passengers. Thus, the demand for scanners is rising to prevent narcotics transportation and the distribution of narcotics and improve public & cargo transportation security at various ports.

Furthermore, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia are some of the countries with stringent penalties for drug smuggling, which would lead to an increase in the adoption of narcotics drug scanning systems to further reinforce homeland security.

The market in Europe is anticipated to register a significant share of the market. The enacted stringent government regulation regarding illegal narcotics drug distribution is set to drive market growth in Europe. The growing drug use activities in the U.K. and Northern Ireland are expected to boost the demand for such scanners during the forecast period.

The rest of the world is expected to witness the second-highest CAGR during the projection period. The growth is attributed to the spurring demand for narcotics scanners to reduce drug-related crimes in South America and the Middle East & Africa. Countries in South America, such as Colombia, Brazil, and Venezuela, are well known for the illegal distribution of cocaine through maritime routes. Thus, the demand for such scanners is increasing to strengthen seaport security.


Constant Product Innovation and Development Strategies Adopted by Smiths Detection Group Ltd. to Endure its Position

Smiths Detection Group Ltd. is a pioneer in developing advanced scanners for several end-users, such as airports, seaports, railway transportation, law enforcement, and military & defense. The constant investment in R&D activities, a large focus on product innovation, and long-term contracts with government and authorized bodies will support the company to withstand its market position.

The other key players involved in the market are focusing on adopting advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence to enhance the production of these scanners.


  • OSI Systems Inc. (U.S.)

  • Bruker Corporation (U.S.)

  • FLIR Systems Inc. (U.S.)

  • Aventura Technologies Inc. (U.S.)

  • Leidos, Inc. (U.S.)

  • Smiths Detection Inc. (U.K.)

  • Thermofisher Scientific Inc.  (U.S.)

  • Mistral Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (India)

  • Autoclear, LLC (U.S.)

  • Nuctech Company Limited (China)

  • Astrophysics Inc. (U.S.)

  • Viken Detection (U.S.)

  • Chemring Group PLC (U.K.)

  • Klipper Enterprises (India)


  • April 2021 – OSI Systems Inc. received a multi-year contract worth USD 16 million from an international customer. According to this contract, OSI Systems Inc. has agreed to deliver MRO services for several platforms of baggage, vehicle, and cargo inspection systems that are already installed at certain checkpoints.

  • April 2021 – Smiths Detection Group Ltd. announced that it received an indefinite-delivery-indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract to deliver HCVP™Z60 drive-through X-ray inspection system. The U.S. Department of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Homeland Security have been awarded this contract. The HCVP™Z60 system will be fixed at a Laredo, Texas Border Patrol checkpoint by September 2022.

  • March 2021 – Smiths Detection Group Ltd. received a contract from Hellenic Police to provide two HCVM e35 High-Energy Mobile X-ray systems for cargo screening. This system is primarily designed to offer real-time data and the quick inspection of cargo-loaded trucks for a threat, such as contraband, narcotics, and explosives.

  • March 2021 – The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has awarded USD 480 million worth of combined contracts to three companies: Leidos, Inc., Smiths Detection, and OSI Systems Inc., to deliver X-ray scanner systems to enhance security at the border crossing.

  • December 2020 – OSI Systems Inc. announced that it received a USD 13 million worth contract to provide Orion baggage scanners, Metor 900M walk-through metal detectors, and 920CT checkpoint baggage scanners, along with an integration software for two major Scandinavian airport operators.


An Infographic Representation of Narcotics Scanner Market

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The global market research report provides a detailed analysis of the market and focuses on key aspects, such as renowned manufacturers, products, demanding technologies, and end-users. Moreover, it offers insights into the market trends and highlights key narcotics scanner industry statistics and developments. In addition to the factors mentioned above, the market research report encompasses several direct and indirect factors that have contributed to the market's growth over recent years.

NARCOTICS SCANNER MARKET Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Estimated Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period



  Value (USD Billion)


  Product; Technology; End-User and Geography

By Product

  • Handheld/Portable Scanner

  • Fixed Scanner

  • Walkthrough Scanner

By Technology

  • Contraband Detection Equipment

  • Infrared Spectroscopy

  • Ion Mobility Spectrum Technology

  • Video Scope Inspection System

By End-User

  • Airport

  • Sea Port

  • Railway Terminal

  • Law Enforcement

  • Defense & Military

  • Others

By Geography


  • North America (By Product, Technology, End User, and Country)

    • The U.S. (By End User)

    • Canada (By End User)

  • Europe (By Product, Technology, End User, and Country)

    • The U.K. (By End User)

    • Germany (By End User)

    • France (By End User)

    • Rest of Europe (By End User)

  • Asia-Pacific (By Product, Technology, End User, and Country)

    • China (By End User)

    • India (By End User)

    • Japan (By End User)

    • Australia (By End User)

    • Rest of Asia-Pacific (By End User)

  • Rest of the World (By Product, Technology, End User, and Country)

    • Latin America (By End User)

    • The Middle East & Africa (By End User)

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 6.20 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 9.92 billion by 2028.

Registering a CAGR of 6.64%, the market will exhibit steady growth in the forecast period (2021-2028).

The seaport end-user segment is the leading segment in the market.

Smiths Detection Inc. and OSI Systems Inc. are the leading players in the global market.

North America dominated the market in terms of share in 2020.

Passenger screening, baggage screening, cargo screening, and vehicle screening are the major applications of this scanner.

Heroin, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, opium, synthetic drugs, opioids, and other substances can be detected by using this scanner.

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