Drug trafficking essay
Drug trafficking is one of the most serious problems for most countries all over the world. Unfortunately, this type of business is rather profitable, if not to consider that it is constantly related to murders, kidnapping, prostitution and other crimes. Certainly drug trafficking contributes to better distribution of drugs, thus involving more and more people, making them addicted. Taking into consideration all the possible dangers, drugs are able to bring to any society, most countries are working constantly in order to prevent use and distribution of drugs which are not legal. The rage of responsibility varies in different countries, from fines and several years in prison to death punishment in China for example. Generally, “drug trafficking” means production, distribution and sale of illegal drugs. (Syal, 2009, p. 2). In this paper we are going to stop at some historical information, related to drugs and drug trafficking, the effects drug trafficking has upon people and societies, we will use some concrete examples of illegal drugs and finally discuss possible ways of limiting distribution of drugs or banning it on the basis of the Obama’s National Drug Control Strategy.
Historically, it is possible to talk about appearance of illegal drug trade around the beginning of the 19th century. “China retaliated by enforcing the ban on imports of opium that led to the First Opium War (1839–1842) between Great Britain and Qing dynasty China” (Berridge, 1981, p. 5). The highest authorities in China struggled against free sales of opium, whereas United Kingdom pushed China to let the merchants from China bring opium without any bans. However the volumes of opium trade continued to grow, because smoking opium turned into a habit among usual people. No wonder that the number of opium addicts grew immensely in the 19th century. The Second Opium War took place in 1856, the result of the two wars was that “the British Crown, via the treaties of Nanking and Tianjin, took large sums of money from the Chinese government through this illegal trade, which were referred to as “reparations” (Berridge, 1981, p. 10).
In the year 1868, the government of the UK took the decision to restrict sale of opium in the Pharmacy Act. In 1914 Harrison Act followed in the United States. Thus, it is clear, that even taking into consideration the fact, that opium sale brought good profits, sooner or later, governments had to restrict and take under control illegal drugs, in order not to worsen the situation with addicted people.
Further, it is necessary to study the effects of the illegal drug trade upon usual people, as well as societies in generally, in detail. This is evident, that those countries, where drugs transit and distribution was widely developed, had to face the problems with drug addicted individuals.
Most researches confirm the fact that illegal drug trade is closely related to crimes’ rate, namely such violent crimes, as murders. In this case we are unfortunately talking not only about developing, but about developed countries as well. For example, “In the late 1990s in the United States the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimated that 5% of murders were drug-related” (Berridge, 1981, p 3).
The UK government’s surveys also underlined, that because of high cost of the illegal drugs and strong addiction, people are likely to commit serious crimes, including robberies, burglaries, murders and so on. “The cost of crime committed to support illegal cocaine and heroin habits amounts to £16 billion a year in the UK” (Epstein, 1989, p. 13). The fact, that drugs were illegal, unfortunately could not restrict the actual sale and distribution, on the contrary this field of criminal activity was able to bring such high profits and the system was so well-built, that drugs became integrated into the American culture. “This high price is caused by a combination of factors that include the potential legal ramifications that exist for suppliers of illicit drugs and their high demand. (Limited supply can be caused by a range of factors) (Epstein, 1989, p.14).There appeared certain layers of society, where the high cost could not be an obstacle and drugs were used as a type of recreational activity. Irrespective of constant attempts to seize control over this problem by the authorities, it is still remaining actual for the USA as well as other countries all over the world. The 1940s brought prohibition of opiates, the 1960s – of marijuana and the 1970s – of heroin, however cocaine and other drugs continued to arrive to the U.S. through the Mexican border. “An estimated $10 billion of the Mexican drug cartel’s profits come from the United States, not only supplying the Mexican drug cartels with the profit necessary for survival, but also furthering Americans’ economic dependence on drugs.” (Epstein, 1989, p 16). The results were that first of all the number of drug-addicted people constantly grew and secondly, illegal drugs’ trade proved to be a business of very high profits and in fact a lot of businessmen invested exactly into this industry.
Demographic was also in a way under influence of illegal drugs. Starting from the 1960s a lot of immigrants arrived to America and the diversity of public was evident. As several decades pasted, more and more criminal records, related to murders and other criminal acts on the basis of drug addiction, were created. Certainly the situation was different in different cities, however generally it really caused a great concern. “An example of this could be seen in Miami, a city with a host of ethnic enclaves. Between 1985 and 1995, the homicide rate in Miami was one of the highest in the nation and rated four times the national homicide average” (Epstein, 1989, p. 22). The decades between 1960s and 1980s also revealed the effects of drug trade upon the baby boomer generation. The demand for marijuana and other drugs was getting higher and higher during this period, resulting in its turn in increase of criminal cases, including suicide, murders, substance abuse. Thus, the insufficient control and restriction of illegal drugs had really serious impact upon individuals as well as societies in general.
Political impact, which illegal drug trade had, could not be underestimated as well. The above-mentioned generation of the baby boomers was used to confront laws on various issues, including illegal drugs. The government was taking specific steps in order to restrict drug trafficking and trade, but with poor results. Marijuana was imported from the Latin America, whereas cocaine was received from Mexico and Colombia. “Due to the influence of this development on the U.S. economy, the Reagan Administration began “certifying” countries for their attempts at controlling drug trafficking” (Syal, 2009, p. 10). During the 1980s America pushed more for restriction of drug transit. The result was that more drugs arrived from Mexico: in the beginning of the 1990s – these were around 50 % of cocaine and by the middle of the 1990s – the percentage increased up to 90 %. Some researches state that between the years 1996 and 2000 the total consumption of cocaine on the territory of the U.S. decreased by 11 %.
The Merida Initiative was a state program, which was initiated in 2008, with the major aim to stop drug trafficking from Mexico. The financial assistance from America, along with possibility to buy the necessary equipment was supposed to produce their positive effect. Unfortunately, the drug trade continued. Thus it is evident, that illegal drug trade has its impact upon internal political situation in any country as well as upon international relations in general.
Cannabis is one of the most popular drugs, the legalization of which till the moment remains a rather controversial issue. Most countries all over the world defined this drug as an illegal one. There are countries, as Canada for example, which made cannabis legal for recreational use, with restriction of its import and distribution. In the year 2014 Uruguay considered legalization of cultivation and sale of cannabis for adult individuals with recreational purposes. In the Netherlands possession and licensed sale of cannabis are not prohibited, however cultivation of the drug is against the law.
Heroin is another wide-spread illegal drug, initially cultivated in the Golden Triangle – Southeast Asia. In addition, opiate was transported from Afghanistan and Mexico. “According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the price of heroin is typically valued 8 to 10 times that of cocaine on American streets, making it a high-profit substance for smugglers and dealers” (Syal, 2009, p. 10). The price of heroin, which is up to 10 times higher than that of cocaine, guarantees dealers and distributors good profits. High costs also contribute to easier transportation, as small doses are easier to hide. One the other hand, penalties for smuggling and heroin sale are rather serious in most countries, including life sentence or even death sentences.
Methamphetamine is also rather popular under such names as “ice”, “meth”. It is often produced at some rolling meth labs, which makes it rather difficult to detect. This drug is very dangerous due to its injectable form, which might be the source of such infections as HIV or hepatitis C. Usually it is inhaled through some kind of tube.
Temazepam, another example of wide-spread illegal drugs, is “a strong hypnotic benzodiazepine, is illicitly manufactured in clandestine laboratories to supply the increasingly high demand for the hypnotic drug internationally (Syal, 2009, p. 8). Eastern Europe is the place of concentration of such labs. In the United Kingdom temazepam belongs to legal drugs and is very often abused. In Sweden it was banned after numerous deaths caused by the drug.
Thus in this section we have briefly studied some examples of the widely –spread illegal drugs, countries of their origin and application, possible negative effects and risks of the most famous illegal drugs.
It is evident, that the problems of drug abuse, drug distribution and drug trafficking need complex solutions from the authorities. A lot of politic leaders and government representatives contributed their efforts into solving of the illegal drugs problems. President Obama is not an exception, in May 2010 he released the National Drug Control Strategy. “The press release states that the report “establishes five-year goals for reducing drug use and its consequences through a balanced policy of prevention, treatment, enforcement, and international cooperation (Syal, 2009, p. 13). This Strategy suggests five-year goals aiming at reduction of drug abuse, namely:
“• Reduce the rate of youth drug use by 15 percent;
• Decrease drug use among young adults by 10 percent;
• Reduce the number of chronic drug users by 15 percent;
• Reduce the incidence of drug-induced deaths by 15 percent; and
• Reduce the prevalence of drugged driving by 10 percent” (Syal, 2009, p. 13).
The three main challenges, described in this strategy include prevention of drug use, of driving under drug impact and prescription drug abuse. A separate place in the strategy is devoted to the problem of recovery of the people, who already became addicted and need urgent and concrete help. Addiction is not the final sentence, there are many case, where the situation might be returned under control with the help of special community addiction centers, development of new medications and so on.
Overall, in this paper we have studied the notion of drug trafficking, its historical development and various approaches, applied in different countries towards this problem; we have pointed out some concrete spheres of illegal drug abuse influences, including political, social spheres; we have listed the most popular and wide-spread drugs, their major qualities, places of cultivation and ways of transportation and distribution. All this information is vitally important for understanding the necessity of better international along with internal control of illegal drugs and their trafficking, as well as possible means and strategies, which would positively contribute to restriction and control of drug trafficking for the sake of future healthy generations.
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