Organized Crime and Drug Trade

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Organized Crime and Drug Trade
Organized crime and the illicit drug trade is a fairly recent ordeal occurring throughout the world, both strongly linked with drug trafficking. Organized crime refers to the unlawful activities of the members of a highly organized, disciplined association engaged in supplying illegal goods and services, including gambling, prostitution, loan- sharking, narcotics, and labor racketeering (Schmalleger, 2011, pg.234). Drug trafficking, which is a type of organized crime, consists of manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, importing, and exporting (or possessing with intent to do the same) a controlled or counterfeit substance (Schmalleger, 2011). These two come hand in hand because the powerful people/ organizations from different parts of the world are the ones who control the illicit drug trade industry. Without the drug traffickers the industry would consist of suppliers who would have no way to deliver their product to the consumer. It is estimated that the illegal drug trade generates up to 500 billion dollars a year, making it the second most lucrative industry after the arms industry (Jenner, 2011). The reason drug trafficking occurs can be due to the high consumption of illicit drugs throughout the world which in turn fuels this business. Like any other industry, there will always be organizations that control it. For example in the automotive industry in the U.S., “the big three” – GM, Chrysler, and Ford are the ones who dominate it, although there are other car companies. In this case, powerful organizations from different regions control the drug trade and will do anything to preserve their power. Because the illicit drug industry is so profitable these organizations will not be hindered by the threats to their business. In other words, these organizations will always turn to violence in order to eliminate these threats. Although several strategies have been implemented throughout the years to fight the illicit drug industry, there has only been minimal success.

The increasing drug use over the years has led to the higher production and trafficking of drugs. Drug use has always been present in one way or another but looking back into the 1960’s shows how perspectives on drugs started to change. During the 1960’s drugs such as marijuana, LSD, and hallucinogens began to gain popularity, mainly among the youth. Timothy Leary, a Harvard Professor (during the 1960’s), conducted several experiments with LSD and later urged the world to try the drug (Jenner, 2011). By the mid-sixties the use of these drugs was very common. Initially these drugs were used to gain insight and new perspectives on the world but this soon gave way to recreational and often harmful use. Since then other drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and amphetamine have appeared on the radar. In present day, United States has been for many years and remains the single most consumers for illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin (Bagley, 2012). The most widely used drug throughout the world is cannabis. Cannabis will likely remain the world’s commonly used drug because it can be cultivated in almost any climate condition which makes it that much easier to produce around the world. The use of opium and opiate drugs are most prominent in Asia and the most use of amphetamine type drugs is in Europe (Schiray, 2001). As the demand for illicit drugs grew large, the supply and suppliers grew as well. The leading countries that grow coca and produce cocaine are Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia (Winslow, 2000). The coca plant is native to western South America which makes the cultivation of the plant much more accessible to these countries. The main growing areas for opium poppies are in Southwest Asia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America (Colombia and Mexico). Afghanistan is the world’s leading opium producer while Burma is second (Desroches, 2007). The rest is produced by the other countries. The major growers of cannabis and...
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