Drug Trafficking and its effects in United States
Drug trafficking is trade in illegal drugs and involves a global black market that is involved in a chain of activities before the drugs get to the consumer. These activities include cultivation of the illegal drugs followed by their manufacture and eventually their distribution to the consumers. Most constitutions prohibit drug trafficking but there has not been much success in stopping this illegal act. The business has been known to be very lucrative and has enriched many people. A report by the UN said that approximately US$321.6 billions were earned through drug trafficking in 2003. This illegal drug trading gives almost 1% of global commerce (Tree & Sherman, 2010).
Illegal drug trafficking began when drug prohibition laws were introduced. In China during the First Opium War, they banned opium but Britain lobbied for their merchants to continue selling opium in China. This was around 1800s and the result of this lobbying is that most people begun taking opium therefore enlarging the market and giving huge returns to the British merchants. The adverse effect was that many Chinese became addicted to opium. On the ban of opium, due to the adverse effects it had on the citizens, there was emergence of drug trafficking to the already opium dependent population. This is a similar story of the emergence of drug trafficking in others countries. An example is the emergence of bootlegging by the mafia groups. Bootlegging involves selling of alcoholic beverages to areas that have laws prohibiting sale of these drinks. One such mafia was Al Capone’s syndicate, which emerged in the 1920s and operated in Chicago. In 1954, there was an abnormal rise in drug trafficking and from that time, the crime levels have increased with the peak being in 1979 (Miller, 2002).
The most traded illegal drugs include heroin, cocaine, hashish, ecstasy, cannabis, methylphenidate, crack, tobacco, alcohol, temazepam and methamphetamine. Cannabis is illegal in most countries with the exceptions of Canada and Holland. It is sold in various forms, one of them being hashish. In some states in the US, it can be allowed if prescribed by a doctor. In the Arabian Peninsula, alcohol is illegal and in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, for instance, there is a ban because most of the citizens are Muslims. Muslims are not allowed to take alcoholic beverages by their religion; therefore, these substances are prohibited in the Muslim states whose constitution is based on the Sharia. Some non-Muslim countries have gone further to prohibit trade in alcoholic drinks whose alcohol content exceeds a certain level. High tax levied on tobacco has resulted in illegal trade in it especially in the United Kingdom. In other countries, it should only be sold to adults, which has resulted in vendors sneaking it to students in schools and minors elsewhere. Afghanistan is the largest exporter of heroin in the world. In 2003 alone, 93% of opiates sold around the world had their origin in Afghanistan and there was a lucrative return of $64 billion, which ended in the pockets of farmers, drug traffickers, insurgents, district officials and warlords (Tree & Sherman, 2010).
In the US, heroin is 8 to 10 times more expensive than cocaine thereby attracting many traffickers. Heroin can be easily smuggled because a small package can contain many doses. In the Vietnam War Ike Atkinson supplied heroin in dead America solders’ coffins but since that time, there has been more scrutiny, making it difficult to smuggle drugs into the US. Methamphetamine’s trade is a serious concern in the US because it can be easily produced therefore making it easily available in large quantities. It is also very addictive. Its common street names are “crystal”, “crystal meth” and “ice.” This drug is chemically produced in laboratories and there has been an increase in the number of these laboratories in this decade. Michigan, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Illinois and Ohio have the largest numbers of these laboratories.
Temazepam is a strong hypnotic drug that is mostly produced in Eastern Europe. It is produced through altering the chemical components of oxazepam, lorazepam or diazepam. Temazepam has been identified as the most abused drug in the United Kingdom, China, Finland, Russia, Australia, South-East Asia and Hungary among others. It has been known to be the cause of many deaths in Sweden and has therefore been banned. Ecstasy is a lab produced drug whose chemical name is MDMA (3, 4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) and is illegal in most countries. It is associated with electronic dance music and raves. Although it has been proposed as a possible medication for treating post-traumatic stress disorder, it is easily abused to cause euphoria (Thomas et al., 2008).
In the USA, illegal drug trafficking has been one of the most profitable businesses hence attracting most of the social crimes into the business. It can therefore be characterized as the business that has the most criminals and the most ruthless people. Drug law enforcement agencies are facing a big challenge of securing the US bounders because of the many people who enter the country through the various means of transport in a year. For example, at least 675,000 planes land in the country each year. The US Customs Service has gone further by saying that an estimated figure of 60 million people visit the US every year, at least 90,000 ships dock with more than 9 million containers and 400 million cargo tons (Public Agenda Foundation & Hinds Some, 1997). These voluminous cargos have brought in many illegal drugs to the country. Criminal groups from South America have been known to smuggle cocaine and heroin into America through various routes for example Mexico inland routes and maritime routes along its East and West coasts. Other routes have been used too to bring illegal drugs to the USA. Methamphetamine has been distributed by criminal groups from Mexico in the West and mid-West and currently in the eastern parts. The use of ecstasy has increased rapidly with the greatest traffickers being Russian, Europe-based an Israel syndicates. Commercial airlines and package carriers are the most used to bring in this drugs.
Domestic organizations based in America also produce these drugs and distribute them. This has made it even more difficult for the government to detect these drugs because motorists and just anyone around the country carry them. Methamphetamine is produced in many laboratories across the US and when one is shut down in one place, another is opened in another area making it difficult for the government to overcome the chain. Many people especially those in the mid-West or western side of the country are hooked to methamphetamine. Due to its availability, it has found its way into schools posing a health hazard to teenagers (Harris, 2009).
Cocaine has continually threatened the lives of many Americans and now its use has moved from the big cities to smaller ones and even to suburbs increasing crime levels and violence. Though the level of cocaine nowadays has not exceeded those of crack cocaine in the 1980s, there is still a considerable crime level caused by cocaine users. The US/Mexico border is the main entry point for cocaine into the US. Colombia is the main cocaine transporter in the world and in collaboration with other criminal groups from Mexico; it has transported many tons of cocaine to the US. Cocaine is still transported through Puerto Rico and Haiti. The lawlessness in Haiti has increased drug smuggling into the US. Crack is the most dominant type of cocaine in the US because it is cheap. Crips, Bloods and other criminal groups from Jamaica, Puerto Rico, are the main traffickers of crack cocaine (Thomas et al., 2008). There has been a tremendous growth of street gangs who fight to maintain monopoly in drug trafficking and this has resulted in an increase in armed robberies, homicide and assaults. With low prices of cocaine in the past years, there has an increase in users and the supply has also gone up. A gram of cocaine goes for at least $12,000 with a purity level of at least 73% while crack rock can go for as low as $3 per 1/10 gram.
The availability of heroin is also shocking, especially on the streets. Middle East particularly Afghanistan, Mexico, Colombia and Burma are the main transporters of cocaine. Almost all cocaine produced in Mexico is meant for the American market and is sold in the form of “black tar” and “brown powder.” Since 1993, there has been an increase in the availability of South American heroin especially along the East coast (Thomas et al., 2008).
Marijuana is the most abused illegal drug with at least 115 million users in the US due to its availability. This drug is known as a gateway to abusing other drugs with at least a third of the American population having abused it once in their lifetime. Its wide spread use has been fueled by the media, groups that fight for its legalization, people’s perception of its harmlessness and production of “blunts.” The internet has gone further to give wrong information especially of its harmlessness to encourage its use. MDMA is one other drug whose abused rate has rapidly increased in the US. It is mainly shipped from Netherlands and Belgium, who are the key produces in the world and the main targets are nightclubs and bars. The consumers are middle-class adolescents and young adults, who view it as non-addictive. Some laboratories have been opened up in the US to manufacture this drug.
Due to drug trafficking, there have been various effects caused by the readily available drugs to the consumers. The various effects are specific to the drug abused for example; marijuana affects the brain hence slowing learning and the interpretation of senses. It also causes lung related illnesses for instance bronchitis and lung cancer and problems of retaining knowledge (Baucum, 1996). These effects affect the user’s productivity making him redundant in a growing economy. Most of the addicts have a problem sustaining their jobs. MDMA effects are anxiety, depression and paranoia, loss of focus, fatigue, irritability, gastro-intestinal disturbances, aches and pains and loss of appetite among others. The chronic use of this drug increase depression and liver damage. Cocaine dependence can result in brain and cardiovascular damage in the end but it has other effects that occur in the short run like psychosis, tachycardia pain attacks and insomnia among others. It is also known to cause changes in personality, which could result in aggressive behavior. The effects of excessive intake of alcohol are nausea, slurred speech hangovers and dizziness among others. These effects can impair a person’s working ability, hence causing their retrenchment or causing the company financial losses. Alcohol is also known to cause violent behavior (Hartstein. 2003). Methamphetamines cause psychosis heart and blood vessel toxicity and convulsions. Heroin’s side effects are skin infections, slurred speech, impaired night vision, respiratory depression or failure, slow gait among others.
The effects of drugs are seen in the rise of crime rates most of the reported rape cases were performed by a person who was under the influence of drugs. People under the influence also commit most armed robberies and homicides. These crimes have been on the increase. Although the American government is putting all the measures it can think of to stop smuggling of drugs into the country, it has not succeeded. Part of the reason is that most of the addicts go an extra mile to help the suppliers to transport the drugs. There are high secrecy levels that are not easy to break because of the risk involved, some of the people helping in shipping are also under oath, which if broken could lead to their death or worse, that of an innocent family member. Drug trafficking especially that of marijuana has increased because the plant is planted locally. For others like methamphetamines, the laboratories are situated in most parts of the country with others being in the traffickers homes (Cozic, 1998). Due to these facts, the crime rates have increased and the adverse effects of these drugs have continued to have bad implications on the user’s health. The government has resorted to using a lot of money to protect the US bounders and on free treatment to the addicts. There has been an increase in HIV infections due to sharing of needles especially by heroin users and this has increased government spending on ARVS.
Many organizations are involved in bringing in drug trafficking in the US most of which are Mexican and Colombian. These organizations use human mules. Human mules are people who are hired to smuggle goods to other countries especially internationally by criminals. Human mules who specifically smuggle illegal drugs are referred to as drug mules and they smuggle the drugs by hiding them in their clothing, bags and shoes or even in their bodies (Information Plus et al., 2006). Some these drug mules undergo surgery to hide these drugs in their bodies while others swallow them on empty stomachs and on arrival in the country of their destination excrete them. These people do not mind their health or even the lawsuits they are exposing themselves to. Just as a mule has a thing tied on its sides, it is the same case that these people have baggage on them. They carry loads of drugs in suitcases; others carry them in suitcases that have seals for the UN to ensure they are exempted through scrutiny.
Submarines have been used to traffic drugs because they cannot be easily seen whether by sonar, radar or infrared systems when on water. Drug traffickers specifically made Narco submarine to traffic drugs. Columbian drug cartels use these submarines mostly for trafficking cocaine to the US. This cocaine has its origin from Colombia and Mexico. Some of the cartels involved in drug trafficking include Cali cartel, Medellin cartel and Norte Del Valle Cartel and they are all from Colombia (Tree & Sherman, 2010). It is therefore evident that drug trafficking is a global crisis that needs to be solved. Most countries including the US have set death penalty as the appropriate sentence for drug traffickers (Manski, 2001).
Drug trafficking as seen above is trading in illegal drugs, some which are heroin, cocaine, hashish, ecstasy, cannabis, methylphenidate, crack, tobacco, alcohol, temazepam and methamphetamine. The effects of this drugs are not only experienced by the individuals when the get addicted but also by the government. It is also clear that there are many individuals and organizations involved in drug trafficking.
|Tree, S., & Sherman, J. (2010). Drug Trafficking. Edina, Minn: ABDO Pub.||This book defines drug trafficking and goes ahead to give the most commonly trafficked drugs|
|Harris, N. (2009). Drug Trafficking. Pleasantville, NY: Gareth Stevens Pub.
|This book speaks about the effects of drug trafficking to a nation|
Miller, R. L. (2002). Drugs of Abuse: A Reference Guide to their History and Use. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.
|The book is on the most abused drugs in United States of America. It names them and gives the effects of both addiction and withdrawal|
Baucum, D. (1996). Psychology. Hauppauge, N.Y: Barron’s.
|It gives the commonly abused drugs, their effects on the user particularly their health, withdrawal symptoms and treatment of these symptoms.|
|Thomas, K. W., Schaller, G., & Gilbert, R. (2008). Side Effects: The Hidden Agenda of the Pharmaceutical Drug Cartel. Clearwater, Fla: Present Time Books.||This book names some of the famous drug trafficking cartels and their networking.|
|Hartstein, M. (2003). The War on Drugs: The Worst Addiction of All. New York, N.Y: Writer’s Showcase.
|The book gives the history of drug trafficking and its rise over the years. It also shows the various laws that have been set in US and other countries to fight drug trafficking|
|Cozic, C. P. (1998). Illegal Drugs. Current controversies. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press.
|The book gives details on the drugs that are trafficked and their mode of trafficking including use of human mules and submarines.|
|Manski, C. F., Pepper, J., Petrie, C., National Academy Press (U.S.), & National Research Council. (2001). Informing America’s Policy on Illegal Drugs: What we don’t know keeps hurting us. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
|The book illuminates people’s ignorance on the effects of illegal drugs. It goes further to name illegal drugs, their effects to individuals and to the government.|
|Information Plus (Firm: Wylie, Tex.), Thomson Gale (Firm), & Jacobson, R. (2006). Illegal Drugs: America’s Anguish. Information Plus reference series. Detroit: Thomson Gale.
|The book gives details on the widespread use of illegal drugs in America. It also details the fight on drug trafficking in various states of America|
|Public Agenda Foundation, & Hinds, M. C. (1997). Illegal Drugs: What should we do Now? Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt.
|The book gives details on the list of illegal drugs and when they were banned in America, their side effects and available treatment for addiction.|
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