Drug Trafficking in the United States
ENG 122 English Composition II
Can the war on drug trafficking actually be won? Absolutely not, the war on drug trafficking will never be won. “Drug trafficking in the United States is the most lucrative business in this country”. But can the war on drugs be won? Many believe that America is winning the war on drugs, and numerous believe that it’s a losing battle. Statistical data shows that drug abuse and trafficking has declined, but by no means has the war been won or lost. In 1971, the phrase "War on Drugs" was first used by Richard Nixon in order to describe America’s fight against the production, distribution and use of illegal drugs. President Nixon called drugs, enemy number one in the 70’s. Our generation today drugs/drug trafficking is still considered to be our enemy. On the other hand, everyone has their own opinion on how to fight the war on drugs; increase law enforcement/DEA, legalization, educational and drug treatment programs. Drug trafficking will never be stopped, but is it important to make the attempt to reduce the demand for drugs to benefit our younger generations to come; Educational and drug treatment programs.
The Opium war shows that drug trafficking has been around for centuries. However, the United States has been battling drug trafficking since the 1900’s. In 1972, Nixon combined four government agencies to fight the “war on drugs”, which is known as the DEA. According to Ojeda, the worldwide drug trafficking is estimated to produce three hundred to four hundred billion dollars annually. With the means of that much money it allows drug traffickers the advantage of all kinds of technology, in order to traffic drugs to the United States. “Because the traffickers have a higher budget than drug enforcement officers do, they are able to develop more sophisticated means of producing, transporting, and hiding their drugs”. “The inception of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 transformed Mexico into the largest exporter of illicit narcotics to the United States in the world. NAFTA not only opened up trade between Canada, Mexico, and the United States, but also created trade routes for South American drug traffickers. Officials estimate that, because of the enormous flow of legitimate traffic between the two countries, only 10 to 15 percent of the drug flow into the United States is discovered and seized”. “The increase in law enforcement efforts was envisioned to reduce drug trafficking by enacting more severe legal sanctions for convicted drug dealers, but the enormity of profits to be made from smuggling and selling drugs overrides the threat of punishment”. This statement basically states that the reward of smuggling/selling is greater than the fear of getting caught. With the fear of getting caught being a minimum, doesn’t help stop/reduce drug trafficking. The drug traffickers have access to more weapons and resources, primarily because they have larger financial resources. According to Anthony Coulson of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, “About $2 million of drug money passes from Arizona into Mexico each day — one of several indicators that illegal drug trafficking is flourishing”
“The consumption of illegal drugs and the design of efforts to control drug use pose some of the most difficult and divisive problems confronting the American public. As a public health and social problem, illegal drugs are responsible for numerous ills, including the premature death of some drug users. The country has borne the weight of the violence and crime that seem to inevitably accompany illegal drug distribution. As a practical problem, recurring drug epidemics have overwhelmed the nation’s treatment resources and plagued police forces and a judicial system struggling to maintain order and credibility” . Nevertheless, the illegal drug market in the United States is one of the most profitable in the world. As such, it attracts the most ruthless, sophisticated, and aggressive drug traffickers. Drug law enforcement agencies face an enormous challenge in protecting the country 's borders. According to the U.S. Customs Service, “every year 60 million people enter the United States on more than 675,000 commercial and private flights. Another 6 million come by sea and 370 million by land. In addition, 116 million vehicles cross the land borders with Canada and Mexico. More than 90,000 merchant and passenger ships dock at U.S. ports. These ships carry more than 9 million shipping containers and 400 million tons of cargo. Another 157,000 smaller vessels visit our many coastal towns. Amid this voluminous trade, drug traffickers conceal cocaine, heroin, marijuana, MDMA, and methamphetamine shipments for distribution in United States neighborhoods” . Additionally there has been a “40% jump in employees testing positive for prescription narcotics form 2005-2009. A November 18, 2010 report by Quest Diagnostics also found that post-accident drug tests are four-times more likely to find narcotics than pre-employment drug tests (3.7% vs. 0.78%). Vicodin is the most frequently found narcotic prescription drug of abuse” . As long as people have a want or addiction, drug trafficking will never go away. However, the U.S could make better significant strides in reducing and diminishing drug trafficking, by increasing the budget and support from the Federal Government.
The main question being, if America can’t win the war, then how does America reduce the want for drugs? “If the volume of drug users is greatly decreased then the drugs coming across the border in turn will be decreased. The task of reducing drug trafficking may be one of the most important goals that Americans can work towards”. In the 1980s, under Ronald Reagan’s administration, drug treatment and educational programs were created. Nancy Reagan created the “Just Say No” slogan in which children were encouraged to resist offers of drugs. The United States will never win the war on drug trafficking, nevertheless the demand for drugs may be won with educational programs; DARE. The DARE program was also created under Reagan’s administration and is known to have much success. “Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, in which trained, uniformed police officers speak to classrooms about the negative consequences of drug use and teach children the skills to resist peer pressure and intimidation. “Supporters of these programs contend that children are less likely to succumb to the dangers of drug use—and less likely to become drug-abusing adults—if they are informed about the risks”. When has educating our youth ever been a negative to our society? “Effective delinquency-prevention programs take many forms. Teaching young, at-risk mothers about infant healthcare and development; working with families to improve communication and problem solving skills; training foster parents to deal with troubled kids; helping students learn the social skills to resist using drugs— all are effective strategies” . Instead of spending tax dollars on going after the drug trafficker, spend it on educating our younger generation. “Teachers surveyed gave an over-all rating of the D.A.R.E. program in the good to excellent range of 97%. D.A.R.E. effectively teaches children to say no to drugs and violence according to 92.8% of parents surveyed. 94.5% of parents recommend the D.A.R.E. program be continued based on their child 's experience. 86% of principals surveyed believe students will be less likely to use substances after the D.A.R.E. program”. Educational programs, such as DARE are extremely effective and are helping to create a drug-free America. The drug education programs is ultimately fighting for our children. In addition to the drug education programs, also increase the funding for drug treatment programs; drug treatment clinics and job support/training for rehabilitated drug addicts. “According to Michael Massing, author of The Fix written in 2000, a book about America’s drug problem, Relying solely on drug-fighting efforts abroad, the government would have to spend $783 million more a year to reduce cocaine consumption by 1 percent; relying on interdiction, it would have to spend $366 million more, and on domestic law enforcement, $246 million. Relying solely on treatment, however, the government would have to spend only $34 million more to achieve that 1 percent reduction. In other words [according to a 1994 RAND study], treatment was seven times more cost-effective than local law enforcement, ten times more effective than interdiction, and twenty-three times more effective than attacking drugs at their source”. However, a number of people argue to legalize all drugs, in order to free up money for drug treatment programs. “According to retired army intelligence officer
Patrick Lloyd Hatcher, “[Legalization] would immediately cut the foreign connection, since all drugs could be produced and marketed much more efficiently inside the United States itself. The U.S. government could then redirect its drug-fighting budget to education aimed at potential users and to succor the truly wounded of the war, the homegrown addicts of hard drugs”. By legalizing drugs would create less trafficking in the United Sates, but it definitely wouldn’t stop people from using drugs. “not only harms the individuals who use drugs, but also damages their families, fosters violence, and increases the prevalence of blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis”.
In conclusion, the data and results clearly states that drug trafficking is a highly controversial topic. The war on drug trafficking will never be won. Regardless of what the United States does to try to stop the drug trafficking. The traffickers will always find a new way around it. “They have secreted loads in propane tanks and containers of hazardous materials, in small cans of tuna fish and five-gallon drums of jalapeño peppers. One trafficking group fashioned a special mold that was used to successfully ship cocaine from Mexico through the United States and into Canada completely sealed inside the walls of porcelain toilets” . Programs such as DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) can be exceedingly effective for our generations to come. Even though drug treatment and education programs are highly debated from both sides of the table in how they do or don’t benefit society. The research undoubtedly shows that the best way to stop drug trafficking is to educate our society. President Nixon was the first to fight the war on drugs and we as Americas must continue the fight for our youth. This war on drug trafficking will never be stopped; nevertheless the United States may reduce the trafficking of drugs, by putting more emphasis educating and protecting our youth.
D.A.R.E. America. (2001). Retrieved July 23, 2011, from DARE: www.dare.com
Agency, U. D. (2004, May). http://www.policyalmanac.org. Retrieved from Policy Almanac: http://www.policyalmanac.org/crime/archive/drug_trafficking.shtml
Bruce R. Talbot Associates. (2010, November 18). Drug Recognition.com. Retrieved from Drug Abuse and Recognition Training: http://drugrecognition.com/Use%20Statistics.htm
Customs, U. (Tuesday, March 15, 2011). Securing America’s Borders: CBP Fiscal Year 2010 in Review Fact Sheet. www.CBP.gov.
Greenwood, P. W. (2006). Delinquency Prevention as Crime Control Policy. In P. W. Greenwood, Changing Lives: Delinquency Prevention as Crime Control Policy (p. 155). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
National Academies Press. (2001). Informing America 's Policy on Illegal Drugs : What We Don 't Know Keeps Hurting Us. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Ojeda, A. (2002). Drug Trafficking. San Diego: Greenhaven Press.
Saunders, D. (2010, April 25). News: Eastern Arizona Courier. Retrieved July 22, 2011, from Eastern Arizona Courier: http://www.eacourier.com
Wright, C. (2011, March 31). Reducing Drug Trafficking in the United States. Retrieved July 21, 2011, from associatedcontent: http://www.associatedcontent.com
References: D.A.R.E. America. (2001). Retrieved July 23, 2011, from DARE: www.dare.com Agency, U. D. (2004, May). http://www.policyalmanac.org. Retrieved from Policy Almanac: http://www.policyalmanac.org/crime/archive/drug_trafficking.shtml Bruce R. Talbot Associates. (2010, November 18). Drug Recognition.com. Retrieved from Drug Abuse and Recognition Training: http://drugrecognition.com/Use%20Statistics.htm Customs, U. (Tuesday, March 15, 2011). Securing America’s Borders: CBP Fiscal Year 2010 in Review Fact Sheet. www.CBP.gov. Greenwood, P. W. (2006). Delinquency Prevention as Crime Control Policy. In P. W. Greenwood, Changing Lives: Delinquency Prevention as Crime Control Policy (p. 155). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. National Academies Press. (2001). Informing America 's Policy on Illegal Drugs : What We Don 't Know Keeps Hurting Us. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Ojeda, A. (2002). Drug Trafficking. San Diego: Greenhaven Press. Saunders, D. (2010, April 25). News: Eastern Arizona Courier. Retrieved July 22, 2011, from Eastern Arizona Courier: http://www.eacourier.com Wright, C. (2011, March 31). Reducing Drug Trafficking in the United States. Retrieved July 21, 2011, from associatedcontent: http://www.associatedcontent.com