Affects of Drug Trafficking in Mexico and the US The United States of America has always been regarded as the land of opportunity. It is seen as a place where anyone, regardless of their age, race, or religion can achieve the “American Dream” and make a great life for themselves and their families through dedication and hard work. For some, this is achieved through academic prowess coupled with a thoughtful plan to ensure success in the workforce once the goal of earning a degree or learning a trade has been attained.
For others, the Dream is achieved by finding ways to beat the system and make money illegally. The drug industry in America is one place where much of this illegal activity can be traced, and Mexico is America’s main drug supplier. Drug trafficking numbers account for more than a billion dollars annually (DEA), and these numbers only reflect the drugs and money confiscated through raids or arrests. It does not account for the money that continues to circulate through the hands of dealers still in business.
Furthermore, the problem of drug trafficking is no longer isolated to drugs such as crack, cocaine, marijuana, and heroine. The sale of controlled substances or prescription drugs is also becoming a booming market in the United States (DEA). According to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the number of Americans currently abusing prescription drugs is more than the total number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined (DEA).
The people who are engaged in these drug trafficking activities are also part of a drug society, much like the underground world, with its own set of laws, rules, and regulations that dictate how to live and socialize in it. Although drug enforcement agencies across the nation are working diligently to track down and destroy these organizations, the heart of these complex operations are located outside of American borders, which makes it more difficult to pursue them without violating international laws.
In addition, citizens in drug infested communities who fear retaliation by drug terrorists are often afraid to cooperate. Law enforcement officials across the country are reporting success in reducing the sale of illegal drugs in the United States and securing our borders; however, 2009 statistics reported by the Drug Enforcement Administration paint a different picture. Law enforcement officials across the country combat daily, and discover the facts about drug trafficking, as well as the successes and failures of local and national officials engaged in the war against drugs in this country.
The purpose of this paper is to understand how drugs are being brought into and distributed throughout this country in order to determine if current measures being used to combat drug traffickers is at all effective. The nucleus of drug trafficking in the United States begins in Mexico, which is where the majority of drugs being sold in the United States are produced. Mexico is the leading producer of the heroine, marijuana, and methamphetamine being distributed in the United States. The United Nations estimates the value of the Mexican drug business to be “142 billion — 11 percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product” (Longmire, pg. 6). In addition, cocaine, which is produced in South America and sold in the United States, is also trafficked through Mexico and generates an estimated 13 billion dollars per year (Buchanan, pg. 30). Mexican drug trafficking organizations, which resemble organized crime units, control the drug trafficking routes between the United States and Mexico. There are currently four major drug trafficking organizations with 100,000 employees competing for control of these routes, which “has fueled widespread violence between rival drug trafficking organizations and the Mexican government” (Buchanan, pg. 0-33) trying to stop them. In 2006, Mexico’s President, Felipe Calderon, announced a crackdown on drug trafficking. Since so many local law enforcement officials were found to be corrupt and receiving monetary kickbacks from cartels for their support, Calderon deployed the military. This spurred an increase in violence by drug cartels, greedy for control of this billion-dollar industry, resulting in 23,000 deaths (Buchanan, pg. 30). The demand for drugs in the United States continues to fuel the industry in Mexico, and the violence resulting from attempts to destroy these organizations, continues to surge.
In the first three months of 2010, 3,365 deaths were reported as a result of drug trafficking violence (Buchanan, pg. 29). The United States government has also been working in conjunction with Mexico to stop the distribution of drugs in the United States. In addition to building a border fence, the U. S. government increased the number of border patrol agents and deployed the National Guard to offer additional support (Longmire, pg. 36). Despite the efforts by the U. S. nd Mexican governments, however, it has been difficult to compete with the Mexican drug traffickers, who are believed to be superior to even the Russian Mafia and well known crime families like the Gambino family (Longmire, pg. 37). In addition to having better weapons, which they receive from their U. S. counterparts, they also have the monetary means to train their employees. They also gained considerable strength when the Columbian cartels lost the ability to traffic cocaine through Florida.
Despite this, efforts to crack down on the sale of illegal drugs in the United States continue to be a priority. Over the past three years, drugs ranging from cocaine to heroin, which have been confiscated in seizures, hit a plateau; however, the amount of marijuana that has been seized has nearly doubled. In addition, the Drug Enforcement Administration established in 1973 began with “1,470 Special Agents and a budget of less than $75 million, yet today, the DEA has more than 5,200 Special Agents and a budget of more than $2. billion” (DEA). Based on these statistics, it is difficult to conclude that the problem with the sale and trafficking of drugs in the U. S. is improving. It is not, however, it is inaccurate to state that the revenue generated from illegal drug distribution is still flourishing. In addition to combating the sale of illegal street drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and heroine, law enforcement officials are also in pursuit of a growing prescription drug industry, which statistics show is over $484 billion annually (WooEB).
Prescription drug dealers are catering to the market of addicts who are addicted to street drugs. Most abusers of prescription narcotics report that their first addiction was to another illegal street drug, however, when access to the street drug is not available, they turn to Opioid analgesics like Methadone, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Morphine, Fentanyl, which are easy to purchase on the street and more difficult for law enforcement officials to seize (Hall, 2008).
When these drugs, which are highly addictive, are taken recklessly, the result is often an unintentional overdose resulting in death. According to a study by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there was a “four-fold increase in admissions for narcotic pain killers as compared to the previous decade” (WooEB).
Between 1999-2004, prescription narcotic drug abuse was noted to be greatest in the Appalachia region and states like West Virginia, and according to a report published by the American Medical Association in 2008, there were 275 deaths reported in West Virginia alone due to accidental overdoses of Opioid analgesics (Hall, 2008); however, in a recent report published by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, this is no longer the case. A study performed noted that the increase in the abuse of narcotic analgesics “was seen across every demographic with no regard to race, age, gender or socio-economic status” (WooEB).
Nationally recognized gangs such as the Bloods or Crips, as well as motorcycle gangs like the Hells Angels, and organized crime families such as the Italian Mafia are responsible for the drugs that are pushed in bulk numbers into the country (O’Neil, 2011), and despite efforts by law enforcement officials to intercept and stop these drug traffickers, many are still thriving. They are the main sources for drug acquisition and distribution throughout the country, and because of the way they are organized and structured, it is extremely difficult to infiltrate these organizations (O’Neil, 2011).
For each part of the country, there is a different group controlling the main drug supply for that region. There are different people running the drugs through the northeast, as compared to the southwest portion of the country, which is another reason why it is so difficult to intercept and end the drug trade in America. As soon as one drug dealer is taken down, there is another one that has been in waiting ready to take its place (Martin, 2011). Drug trafficking continues to be one of the most profitable, tax-free businesses in the country. Despite efforts by law enforcement agencies, the drug business is still booming.
In 1999, 36,165 kgs of cocaine was seized compared to 49,339 kgs in 2009. In 1999, 351 kgs of heroin was seized compared to 642 kgs in 2009. In 2009, 338,247 kgs of marijuana was seized compared to 666,120 kgs in 2009. In 2009, 1,489 kgs of methamphetamine was seized compared to 1,703 kgs in 2009, and in 1999 1,736,077 doses of hallucinogens were seized compared to 2,954,251 in 2009 (DEA). In nearly every case, the numbers have doubled. Based on this data, it seems unlikely that the increase in these numbers is primarily due to police vigilance, versus more drugs being dispensed on the streets.
Citizens are concerned that the Mexican government and military, which is comparable in size to the existing drug trafficking organizations, does not have the power to combat these cartels. Yet, even if they were successful, drug traffickers would simply revise their existing routes and consider the use of transit countries to deliver the drugs, as was done when the Columbian cartels were shut down in South America. Until there is no longer a demand for the drugs in the United States, it is not likely that the problem of drug trafficking will cease.
Efforts to stop them, however, will continue to fuel violence, which has escalated to death threats, kidnappings, and targeting innocent civilians, and also may incite increased trafficking of people for prostitution. Despite ongoing efforts and statistics that report an upward trend of drug trafficking, sales, and abuse, law enforcement officials must continue to fight the battle against the sale of illegal street drugs and prescription narcotic analgesics and seek ways to enact new laws that will protect the general public. Works Cited Appalachia & across the US, drug epidemic grows. Narcotic abuse statistics increase.
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