Reducing Drug Trafficking in the United States
American youth and their mentors represent the social classes that demand an efficient instruction about the dangers of drug abuse. There is a sufficient amount of research, which proves that if a young person avoids using alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs at least until age 20, it is almost guaranteed that he or she will abstain from any substance abuse for the rest of his or her life. It is also supported by numerous evidence that a majority of young generation manage to omit using illegal drugs because of the examples set by the respected adults. These can be parents, teachers, or other community leaders. Conversely, the research proves that the youth who did yield to the temptation of using drugs, largely lack the proper guidance from adults. Thus, the main challenge is to help American citizens to gain a full understanding of the extent to which illegal drugs harm both the society in general and every separate individual in specific (Drug Facts: Nationwide trends, 2012).
Drug control programs are developed on a variety of strategic approaches and attitudes. One of the most essential components of a well-balanced drug control program is supply reduction. This is due to the evident fact that there is hardly any sufficient alternative way to reduce the demand for illegal drugs. The experience shows that when the drugs are widely available, they are most likely to be immediately abused. This can be relevantly exemplified by the situation with heroin. In recent years the purity of heroin was increasing, which directly resulted into the subsequent increase in the number of amateur drug edicts. This is due to a mere fact that the method of injection was no longer mandatory in use.
One of the reasons why heroin became more attainable is a strategic decision to breed opium poppy, produce heroin, and utilize the ready product in the United States, made by criminal Columbian drug organizations. The Drug Enforcement Administration (the DEA) offers a seizure data, according to which Colombian heroin captures less than 2 percent of the global production potential and yet dominates the heroin market in the east of USA accounting for 70 percent of its total amount. The consequent response of cocaine traffickers to a decline in demand for crack and powder cocaine resulted in giving preferences to selling heroin (Statistics and Facts, 2012).
Within the United States, the issue of supply reduction may be viewed from a domestic and an international perspective. The latter implies regulation by means of the Controlled Substances Act, anti-drug laws’ reinforcement, elimination of marijuana breeding, regulation and management of precursor chemicals, Customs’ inspection that is to be gone through by every commerce or persons entering the country, prisons’ screening on the subject of drugs, and the establishment of drug-free school zones. When assessed on an international level, supply reduction is accomplished through regional, bilateral and global accords, precursors’ control, consensus building, integrated investigations, alternative development, anti-money-laundering actions, replacement and termination of drug-crops, establishing public institutions and international support.
The drug flow crossing the boundaries of the United States may be disrupted by means of introducing interdiction in the arrival and transit zones, increasing traffickers’ risks, preventing them from delivering significant supplies of drugs to the United States along with driving them to less efficient methods and routes. Such restrictions also improve the process of generating intelligence to be used against criminal drug trafficking organizations in international, as well as domestic operations.
Drug traffickers react to interdiction by changing routes and altering modes and means of transportation. There are large criminal organizations, which function on an international level and thus have an extensive access to the most developed technologies and a wide variety of recourses to conduct their operations. Such traffickers’ inventiveness and flexibility cannot be overlooked. Hence, in order to surpass these features, the United States government must immediately deploy every available resource to change high-threat areas. This is achieved by designing corresponding combined interdiction operations, anticipating flexible trafficking models. There are three Joint Inter-Agency Task Forces based in Panama, Key West, FL, and Alameda, CA, which lead such coordinated operations. The Customs' Domestic Air Interdiction Coordination Center in Riverside, CA inspects means of arriving at the United Stated by air. The Texas-based Joint Task Force Six, El Paso, and Operation Alliance monitor and regulate the situation along the Southwest border.
As the result of 1999 $870 million appropriation of Congress for the benefit of international interdiction and drug-control issues, the general interdiction resources significantly increased. Thus, the Joint Inter-Agency Task Forces East and South consolidation improved the ability to interdict drugs incoming from the direction of Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean (U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency, 2004).
The Caribbean, eastern Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico are included into a six-million square-mile transit zone, which has to be crossed by all the drugs coming to the United States from South America. According to numerous investigations of reported trafficking events, the Jamaica-Cuba- Bahamas vector is most regularly used by drug traffickers.
A major U. S. federal agencies, such as The Coast Guard for maritime interdiction co-leading with U.S. Customs for air interdiction, aim to reduce the incoming amount of drugs from the source suppliers-countries by restricting the accessibility of maritime and air routes in the transit zone. They patrollize this vast area and integrate their operations with foreign interdiction forces.
The Department of Defense is another governmental organization, which provides essential support in the process of reducing the flow of drugs to the sovereign territory of the United States. It conducts monitoring, screening and detection operations, generates information, which consequently allows interdiction forces to act effectively. It is also capable of taking direct actions against the illegal drug traffickers.
The problem of stopping the drug flow in the transit zone, apart from sea and air shipments’ interception, involves also preventing the traffickers’ ability to use their financial systems for corrupting institutions, or perform any other illegal actions within the transit zone of the countries. Hence, the significance of international assistance and cooperation on the matter is hard to be overvalued. It is crucial for developing a well-balanced, effective and thorough transit zone strategy. This is exemplified by the collaboration of the United States with the Central American and Caribbean countries in implementing a vivid drug-control agenda, which involves the development of measures to overcome corruption, strengthen judicial and law-enforcement institutions, challenge laundering of money, ensure cooperative interdiction and perform over-all modernization of the law system.
The raw material used for producing cocaine is called coca. It is bred in Colombia, Bolivia and Peru. However, due to a strong political will to confront the illegal drug trade, an efficient amount of continuing localized efforts to eradicate this crop prove to be successful. This is also connected to a series of maneuvers, such as air interdiction campaigns, precursor chemicals’ control, and a variety of separate crop programs.
As to the attempts to reduce the availability of heroin on a domestic level, it faces significant challenges. According to the worldwide statistics, illegitimate production of opium has doubled since 1986. Especially evident was the increase in Afghanistan and Laos. It was efficient enough to offset some insignificant decline in Burmese, Dominican, Colombian and Mexican opium production. Nevertheless, the latter continue to be a serious threat to the United States, taking into consideration that traffickers from these areas actively develop their marijuana and cocaine distribution network, significantly expanding heroin sales by using destructive marketing techniques (U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency, 2004).
The contemporary research shows that some common features can be traced in geographical distribution of drug market. Consequently, heroin produced in Mexico is commonly marketed in the western parts of the United States. Drugs from Southwest and Southeast Asia are transferred to the U. S. market through Canada and its immediate surroundings (Drug Facts: National trends, 2012).
The research shows that one of the most common and widespread illegal drugs, which despite all the numerous governmental projects and strategies are still being smuggled onto the territory of the United States, is marijuana. Hence, one of the most recent ideas for reducing drug trafficking in the country employs actual legalization of marijuana. According to Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Rusty Payne, “Marijuana is by far the most seized drug at the Southwest border, and it serves as the cash cow of the drug cartels in Mexico” (Freedman, 2011). Furthermore, the Beaumont Enterprise newspaper reports that the amount of marijuana seized along the Southwest border has increased by 44% between 2005 and 2009. According to rough theoretical investigation, legal marijuana could raise efficient amounts of money in tax revenues that the U.S. greatly needs. Taking into consideration the fact that the United States are recently experiencing significant federal deficits, such tax revenues could become a reliable financial source necessary for the deficit reduction and funding a number of fundamental human services (Drug Facts: National trends, 2012).
Another potentially effective strategies for reducing drug trafficking in the United States are represented by the use of unmanned airplanes guided by computers and supplied with quality video cameras, which monitor borders of the United States on dubious activities. Thus, the detected drug traffickers are immediately relayed to law enforcement Border Patrol.
Due to both national and international significance of the drug issue, an essential question to answer would be the following: if the reduction of illegal drug trafficking is worth all the efforts put into attempts to solve this problem? According to the available statistics data, the United States drug control budget has increased from $9.7 billion in 1990 to $17.7 billion in 2000. Subsequently, the number of The Drug Enforcement Administration agents increased from 3,191 in 1990 to 4,561 in 2000. However, disregarding such sufficient increases on the part of the U. S. government, the number of drug users increased as well: from 5.8 percent of the population in 1992 to 6.7 percent in 1998. In the year 1999, 14.8 million Americans were using illegal drugs. Approximately 208,000 of them were users of heroin. Again, despite all increases of efforts in the legal and financial spheres, drug use in America has been constantly spreading and rising (Drug Trafficking, 2012).
America’s everlasting efforts to confront the production, distribution, and use of illegal drugs can be best described by the phrase “war on drugs”, initially coined by Richard Nixon in 1968. In 1972, he incorporated four government agencies, aiming to combat drugs, and created the Drug Enforcement Administration. This war on drugs was eventually reinforced by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. He initiated several laws, which allowed federal officials to access military intelligence, training, and equipment in order to track and intercept drug traffickers. Meanwhile federal and local governments were passing laws allowing property and assets derived from drug profits to be confiscated and retained by officials. Many drug treatment and education programs were initiated under the administration on Ronald Raegan.
It is important to understand that confronting the supply of drugs is essential in reducing drug use and the social drawbacks caused by it. The popularity of such wide a variety of drugs, in such mind-blowing purity and quantities, results in unprecedented violence, corruption, and lawlessness in the United States. Thus, it is extremely important that every necessary effort is made into law reinforcement and drug interdiction. This will help to protect the tolerance towards anti-drug policy in the United States.