The History, Effect, and Cost of Drug Trafficking on Society

When one hears the term drug trafficking, the image of guns, goons, and gold immediately enter the imagination. This is the image portrayed in Hollywood films regarding the trade and it carries a semblance of truth. Drug trafficking does have varied meanings though. I could mean the illegal smuggling of drugs from one country to another or the illegal sale of a controlled substance. In truth, the word carries a more intricate and expansive meaning. Drug trafficking covers the manufacture, sale, as well as the importation and exportation the illegal or controlled substances between national borders or countries.

These are the areas covered by the national agencies of various countries enjoined in the fight to end global drug trafficking. Drug trafficking is a multi billion dollar industry that covers the entire globe. There is no possibility of totally eradicating a problem that has the all the nations in the world cooperating in a concerted effort to end the drug trade. It is an admitted fact that drugs are an important part of the evolution and lengthening of man’s life.

All prescription and over the counter drugs are regulated by government screening agencies in order to protect the patients, it is this protection that disappears when illegal drugs are bought and sold in the drug market. We even have legal yet “harmless” drugs such as caffeine readily available for that instant buzz when we need it anywhere in the world. In order to understand how and why the problem of drug trafficking has gotten out of hand, we must first understand the history of the problem. Some of the earliest recorded historical data on legalized drug trafficking can be traced back to 19th century Britain.

This was a time in their history when they used Opium as a trading commodity with China. In exchange for Opium, the Chinese would give them tea and silk. By the 20th century, certain countries, such as the United States, and again, Great Britain, redefined their positions on drug use although it still had not evolved into the definition as we know it to be today. From this point on, the international drug trade began its evolution into the system that we recognize today with its fastest changes happening between 1970-1980.

Due to the vast network of the drug trade and various monetary denominations used in paying for it, it is really impossible to have a definite declaration as to how much is really involved in this type of trading. It is, however, safe to assume that it is a multi-billion dollar industry spanning the globe. Illegal drugs are mostly developed in the third world countries and exported under the cover of darkness to the more developed counterparts for distribution. An example of this scenario would be drugs developed in Mexico and other Latin American countries like Costa Rica, would find its way into the United States.

Due to the complexity of the global drug cartel, drug trafficking has become a problem that each country affected by the problem deals with on a country to country basis. This has been the situation for some time now because of the way countries view their drug problem. To quote an article from Parliamentary Information and Research service (Library of Parliament, 2003) ” A number of politicians in Latin America and elsewhere have argued that close international cooperation to address the drug trade would endanger national “sovereignty.

” Because Europeans have long claimed that most drugs were only “passing through,” stopping the traffic was given a low priority. ” The United States considers itself the “victim country” in this scenario. This is why the country has always tried to set the path towards dealing with the problem. This is usually accomplished using bilateral agreements between nations. In their report for the Parliamentary Information and Research Service titled Illegal Drugs and Trafficking, authors Diane Leduc and James Lee (Leduc ; Lee.

2002) both noted that as of February 2002, President Bush had ” unveiled a new National Drug Control Strategy, based on three core principles: (1) stopping drug use before it starts; (2) healing America’s drug users; and (3) disrupting the market [for illegal drugs]. ” They further say that this strategy was set into motion in order to “emphasize a balance between supply and demand reduction efforts. ” Meaning that the U. S. will try to reduce the demand for drugs by preventing its entry and providing treatment for existing addicts while concentrating on stopping the inflow of the drugs into the country.

The United Nations itself has been at the forefront of addressing the problem of drug trafficking by enacting various anti drug trafficking agreements since the 1960’s. The founding of the United Nations Fund for Drug Abuse Control (UNFDAC) in 1971, with the support of United States, Germany, Sweden and Norway. Before World War II became a major battle, the United States saw it’s first battle when there was a surge of a drug epidemic at the start of the 20th century.

This caused the government to take action by instructing domestic law enforcement to prevent the spread of opium and coca crops throughout the states. Due to the turbulent times during the sixties, the youth of that generation began dabbling in drugs like marijuana, amphetamines, and psychedelics. Due to the rising levels of drug use and emergence of new designer drugs like cocaine and crack, a drug culture came to being and in 1973 the creation of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration hoped to squash this underground society that dwelled on substance abuse.

The mission objective of this agency was to enforce federal drug laws. The DEA as the agency came to known has had to face challenge after challenge in its quest to end drug trafficking. Drug trafficking has evolved into an arm of organized crime backed before by American criminals, into organizations that take their orders from overseas bosses who have a finger in the drug trade in the United States. The United States faces the biggest problem in dealing with the problem of drug trafficking due to the problem they have when it comes to protecting the border from Mexico.

According to the statement made by DEA Administrator Donnie R. Marshall before the U. S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime (DEA Statement, 2001) dated March 29, 2001 ” Illicit drugs are smuggled in record levels into the United States via the 2,000-mile U. S. /Mexico border. Over the past few years, Mexican based trafficking organizations have succeeded in establishing themselves as the preeminent poly-drug traffickers of the world, using our shared border to smuggle illicit drugs into the United States.

These organizations present an increasing threat to the national security of this country, with voluminous amount of drugs, violent crime, and the associated corruption of public officials in Mexico. Mexico is the largest transshipment point of South American cocaine destined for the United States, and 65% of this cocaine reaches American cities via the U. S. /Mexico border. Mexico also remains a major source country for heroin and marijuana, and many of these Mexican based trafficking organizations are utilized by Colombian Cartels to transship drugs destined for the United States. “

It is difficult to control the entrance of illegal drugs into the country because the drug traffickers can camouflage their illegal substances in any of the container loads legally entering the country. There are various ways that drug traffickers can use in order to get their drugs into the country. According to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA, 2004) ” Criminal groups operating from South America smuggle cocaine and heroin into the United States via a variety of routes, including land routes through Mexico, maritime routes along Mexico’s east and west coasts, sea routes through the Caribbean, and international air corridors.

Furthermore, criminal groups operating from neighboring Mexico smuggle cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, amphetamine, and marijuana into the United States. These criminal groups have smuggled heroin and marijuana across the Southwest Border and distributed them throughout the United States since the 1970s. In addition to distributing cocaine and methamphetamine in the West and Midwest, these Mexico-based groups now are attempting to expand the distribution of those drugs into eastern U. S. markets. ” Drugs manufactured in Western Europe such as Ecstasy get smuggled in via carriers on commercial flights or courier services.

New York City is also a well-known distribution hub for drugs coming from Southeast and Southwest Asia. There is also a domestic drug developing market within the United States that produces marijuana, methamphetamine, PCP, and LSD. These backyard traffickers usually cater to the less moneyed high school and college crowds. In areas where drug use is rampant, such as the smaller cities and suburbs, there is an equivalent rise in criminal activities of the youth in that sector. It is believed that 65 % of cocaine orders get smuggled into the United States via the U. S.

– Mexico border. This supply is usually sourced from Colombia, the country that controls the supply of cocaine worldwide and has the capability to move the product by any means necessary. The Colombian cartel directly runs their US operations through a vast network of connections that sometimes include money laundering. The Colombian dealers have seemingly increased their confidence and support for their Mexican counterparts though and have, over some time, allowed Mexican cartels to make their presence felt in the drug trafficking world, specifically, in the United States.

Basically though, the Colombians and Mexicans have divided their drug trafficking kingdom in the United States as they realized that by dividing the market, they lessened the danger of being discovered through their financial dealings with their distributors. Colombia now controls the eastern seaboard composed of Boston, Miami, Newark, New York, and Philadelphia. On the other side, Mexico controls the western and midwestern United States composed of Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.

According to research by Turning Point, a social care organization featured in the article “Hunting Britain’s Mister Cocaine”, written by Tim Bouquet (Boquet, 2007) , “In Colombia one kilo of Coca leaves costs a shade over $2. Turned into Cocaine it costs $2000 a kilogram. In Asia one gram of crack in the streets retails for about $120-200. ” The street name for Cocaine is Crack, taken from the sound the substance makes once it is smoked. It leaves users with an immediate but short-lived high. Users try to extend the high by using more of the drug in increasing amounts until the addiction becomes an uncontrollable urge.

Of all the drugs in the streets of the United States, the illegal substance whose propagation has become harder and harder to control over the decades has to be Cocaine. This is because of the entrance of the Dominican drug traffickers into the market with the support of their Colombian counterparts. Street-level distribution of that specific drug is solely the Colombian cartel’s area. This cartel is proven to be controlling mostly the areas from New England to New York City with the Mexicans being the moving force behind the regular supply transported to New York since the 1990’s.

Exactly how much does Cocaine cost? Mexico is slowly coming into its own as a country with its own organized crime syndicates. Their drug cartels are regularly gaining more responsibility for the drug trafficking trade into the U. S. as their Colombian counterparts slowly shy away from the U. S. market. The reason for the shift is believed to be the law passed in 1997 by the Colombian National Assembly that imposes repercussions such as ” the prospect of extradition for overt acts committed on or after the date (December 17, 1997) that the extradition amendment went into effect. “

With that law in place in their own country, the Colombian drug cartel had to hedge their bets and let someone else take over the market for them. The drug cartels now faced the reality that they had to lessen the chances of the U. S. government gathering any evidences against them that could support an extradition request on the part of the United States government. I am sure that by now, you are already wondering as to how the cocaine manages to make it into the United States then. The travel of cocaine from Columbia to the United States all starts at the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

An estimation by various law enforcement agencies in the United States indicates that about 65 % of Cocaine passes through the Central American – Mexico border via fishing ships in the area of the Eastern Pacific. The route used is most likely Columbia – Mexico or Yucatan Peninsula. There are also some minor routes that can be used which pass through Caribbean; Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. Haiti is also a fast growing drug trafficking area due to the unsecured political and social situation that exists in the country and continues to get worse every day.

Usually though, Haiti serves as a mid shipment point for any cocaine heading for the eastern markets in the United States. Aside from Haiti, other growing threats to the drug trafficking trade and route are the Jamaicans, whose primary market are the Canadian, European, and a portion of the U. S. market. With all of these known facts, one will be led to ponder the question, “What can we as a people or as a government do to end drug trafficking in our country?

” This is a cliche but it is the sad truth that pertains to drug trafficking, ending drug trafficking is easier said than done. This is not to say though that the government of the Unites States has not taken steps to try to lessen, if not eradicate the drug trafficking on American shores. There are various ways that the DEA uses to try to limit and end drug trafficking but the most effective method may be the inter-agency cooperation that allows the DEA to formulate and implement certain programs, in cooperation with other international anti-drug trafficking organizations.

These operations have most often proven to be highly successful in combating the entrance of illegal drug shipments. This is done through an intricate and international network of intelligence gathering, joint investigations with counterpart agencies worldwide and finally cooperation between task forces enjoined to fulfill the missions along with other law enforcement agencies. Through the DEA-Special Operations Division, coordinated efforts between the DEA, FBI, Customs, and IRS, shadow various drug trafficking organizations in order to accomplish successful arrests.

Those operations are aside from the continuous border patrol programs, which also includes, to a certain degree, highway patrolling in order to implement drug enforcement along the U. S. – Mexico border. This is done at checkpoints positioned 150 miles from the Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas borders. This is known as Highway Interdiction. The program also helps in investigating emerging trends in concealment of illegal drugs. Law enforcement officials, under the jurisdiction of the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) implement the program.

Due to the tutelage of their Colombian partners, the Mexican drug cartels have now undergone a facelift and come out of it with a more efficient organization, as well as consolidated power with very specific stronghold areas. As they continue to change the face of their organizations so is the DEA hell bent on ending their reign of destruction in the land of the brave and free. The DEA will never allow drug traffickers to continue to destroy the American society and everything good that the U. S. society has stood for all these years.

Drug trafficking can be eradicated. But, it will take a combined effort and perseverance on the part of the implementing government agencies. Taking down a drug trafficker and his organization takes skill, millions of dollars, and cooperation between departments. As a country, the United States cannot simply stand by and pretend that drug trafficking does not exist. The DEA will continue to develop strong counter attacks on drug traffickers that will drive the message home, they will not succeed in destroying the country using drugs as their weapon of choice.

With extradition now an option for the agencies, this assures the public that no drug trafficker will ever be above the law. All the activities of suspected drug traffickers will be monitored and they will be arrested once there is enough evidence against them for the crime of drug trafficking. As evidenced in the preceding pages of this research paper, drug trafficking is not a problem solely located in the United States of America.

To quote Rodrigo Lara Bonilla ” countries that begin by producing and trafficking in drugs end up by consuming them. ” Bonilla is the former Colombian Minster of Justice. Drug trafficking may sometimes be composed of a small, almost negligible organization but the organization has immeasurable ill effects on the society that uses it. The only way a country can implement successful anti drug trafficking programs is by working with others through bilateral and multilateral agreements that will allow effective rules and laws to be enacted.

These laws should have the capability of evolving as the drug traffickers do in order to insure that the law will never become ineffective in the battle is was meant to win. We must also remember that there is a social responsibility given to each individual of this country that, if followed, will help decrease, if not eradicate the problem of drugs and drug trafficking in this nation. The use of drugs is meant, as a social escape for some people, if the social problems of the society can be dealt with efficiently, the people will not have idle time to use drugs.

No drug users, no drug trafficking. Solicitor General Herb Gray, of Canada is once quoted to have said ” The drug trade is dependent on demand and only by developing preventative strategies that strike at the underlying factors that lead people to use drugs in the first place can we curb drug abuse and trafficking. These factors, or root causes, such as sexual abuse, broken homes, illiteracy, physical abuse, and lack of parental guidance are more social problems than they are problems of crime.

” Drug trafficking relies heavily on organized crime in order to survive. Therefore, local gangs also benefit from drug trafficking. The Chinese are beginning to get involved in drug trafficking yet again with the entrance of the Chinese Triad into the drug trafficking scene. There are also new threats developing everyday from various other groups such as the Russian Mafiya groups, and the Japanese Yakuza, an organization that is involved in everything from assassination to money laundering.

Last April 1, 2005, even our the most disciplined and upstanding citizen of this country, the soldiers, have been accused of falling prey to the lucrative offers made by drug cartels for the soldiers to act as couriers for the drugs they wish to sneak into the country. There have been reports that soldiers who were recently stationed in Colombia tried to smuggle cocaine into the country upon their return from a tour of duty in Colombia, but was arrested by law enforcement officials when they tried to sneak the cocaine onto a military plane.

I would like to conclude my paper by reiterating the danger posed by drug trafficking on society as a whole. It is a well-documented fact that there is a direct link between increased drug use and increased crime rates in any given state of the United States of America. The larger drug cartels will also not hesitate to arm their small time subsidiaries in order to make sure that the partner will run a highly organized and tight ship. This is usually the case for most illegal immigrants who join gangs when they arrive in the USA.

The so-called street gangs are influential people who have direct links with drug cartels over in Mexico or Colombia. Work Cited Blum, William. CIA Involvement in Drug Trafficking. Killing Hope: U. S Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II Blum, William. The CIA and Drugs Just Say “Why Not? ” Bouquet, Tim. (March 2007). Hunting Britain’s Mr. Cocaine. Reader’s Digest Asian Edition, 106-112 Drug Enforcement Administration. March 29,2001. News from DEA, Congressional Testimony. Washington D. C. : United States Drug Enforcement Administration Drug Enforcement Administration.

Illegal Drugs in America: A Modern History Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Trafficking in the United States. May, 2004 Finn Bennet, William. Drug Trafficking No. 1 Issue for Gang Task Force. February 10, 2007. Library of Parliament. February 2003. Illegal Drugs and Drug Trafficking. Parliamentary Research Branch: Author McIntire Peters, Katherine. Thunder Mountain. January 15, 2004 The Razor Wire. US Soldiers ‘Smuggled’ Cocaine From Colombia. Volume 8, Number 2 Schmalleger, Frank. Drug Trafficking. Criminology Today: An Interactive Introduction, Fourth Edition. 451-452