In the United States, illegal drugs are related to crime in numerous ways. Most directly it is a crime to use, possess, manufacture, or distribute drugs classified as having a potential for abuse such as cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. Drugs are also related to crime as drug trafficking and drug production and distribution are often controlled by drug cartels, organized crime, and gangs. Drugs are not only an issue for law enforcement officials; drug use affects families and communities as a whole. Drug addictions cause people to do things that they normally would not do such as stealing and even murder. The use of illegal drugs has become a huge problem in the United States and it has become a top priority of law enforcement officials to stop the production and manufacturing of drugs at all costs.
In examining crime in the United States, correlations are often established between drug abuse and criminal activities. The violence created by chronic, hardcore drug use is the most tenacious and damaging aspect of America’s drug problem. The sale and use of drugs have continued to plague our communities and nation, and a research continues to indicate the drug use fuels the criminal activity in our country. “According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's 1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, an estimated 14.8 million Americans were current drug users, meaning that they had used an illicit drug in the month prior to the survey.” (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2000) The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse asks individuals in American households about their drug and alcohol use and also about their involvement in acts that could get them in trouble with the police. Research shows the illicit drug users are sixteen times more likely than nonusers to report being arrested and booked for theft and are nine times more likely to be arrested on an assault charge.
The term drug related crimes has been the subject of much criticism as it does not clearly define the specific nature or range of the crimes. The drug/crime relationship is difficult to distinguish because most crimes result from a variety of factors such as personal, situational, cultural, and economical factors; even when drugs are a cause, they are likely to be the only one factor among many. What is meant by drug related crimes varies with each study; some studies interpret the mere presence of drugs as having relevance to the crime where other studies interpret the relationship more closely. Reports by offenders about their drug use may be exaggerated or minimize the relevance of drugs; drug use measures, such as urinalysis tests, are limited in most cases. Crimes that occur as a result of a victim's or offender's drug use, crimes that transpire subsequent to the offender's need to support his or her drug habit, and crimes that occur as a result of drug trafficking and distribution are all considered drug related crimes. While most drug-related crimes are applicable to one of these categories, some may include more than one classification.
Another aspect of drug related crime is committing an offense to obtain money to support drug use. Trafficking in illicit drugs also tends to be associated with the involvement of violent crimes because of the competition for drug markets and customers, disputes and rip-offs among individuals involved in the drug market, and the tendency toward violence of individuals who participate in drug trafficking. In addition, locations in which street drug markets are most common tend to be disadvantaged economically and socially; legal and social controls against violence in these areas tend to ineffective. The introduction of lethal weapons in recent years has also make drug violence more deadly. The illegal drug trade is a global black market, dedicated to cultivation, manufacturing, distribution,...
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