The world is currently engaged in a War on Drugs, a war that has been waged for decades and which shows no indication of being successfully concluded in the near future. As with other types of wars, this one has fronts both within the domestic borders as well as in foreign lands and the war affects the country’s economic policy and shapes relationships with numerous foreign powers. Military and intelligence services are engaged in the war, as are various law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels.
Yet drug use and abuse continues to be strong, and drug interdiction efforts on the international level draw mixed reviews. This research considers the issue of drug trafficking, and examines the political ramifications. Drug traffickers run everything like a business. They sell a product, compete for customers, and market their product; collect payments, payout commissions and salaries for people that work for them. “It is frequently argued that drug dealers can be viewed as entrepreneurs involved in ‘enterprise crime’ and that drug trafficking has much in common with legitimate business” (Desroches 830).
A major difference between running a business and upper level drug trafficking is that the traffickers do not follow the rules and regulations that a legitimate business is required to follow. Many people are aware of the financial benefits that can be awarded from selling illicit drugs. Generally, the reward overrides the risk to most people in the illegal drug market. Factors such as economical changes forced those who were used to making a living from repairing and reselling junk to seeking fast money that could generate huge profits.
One would think trafficking into US borders wouldn’t be a big issue with all of the technology and man power of the United States. Trafficking into the United States is very difficult to prevent with “more than 295 million people, involving upward of 88 million cars and 4. 5 million trucks and railroad cars cross at 38 official border crossing points each year. In particular, the San Ysidro border crossing at the junction of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico and San Diego, California, USA is reportedly the busiest land border crossing in the world, with 46 million persons and 14 million vehicles crossing annually” (Brouwer et al 710).
In Asia, “China shares a 2,000 kilometer border with Burma, thus resulting in China serving as a major transit route in addition to a source of consumption” (Clarke75). Estimations suggest that there are tens of millions drug users in China. 80 percent support their drug problem through crime and 40% of the crime is drug related. Past foreign policy decisions by China and their trade of weapons area main reason for the ease of importing illegal drug into the country. Korea is a neighboring country of China with government funded narcotics trafficking.
Since Korea has some government funded trafficking;the detection of smuggling drugs into China is very difficult to regulate. Beijing spends a lot of focus on its borders with the Southeast Asian countries because of Xinjiang. Xinjiang is bordered by the Arabian Sea and is under developed. “Xinjiang is a desirable trafficking destination, given its geographic proximity to major areas of production and the fact that transport is much less risky, especially since counternarcotics measures taken by China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Central Asian republics remain inadequate” (Clarke93).
Overall, smaller is safer as far as drug distribution enterprises are concerned. “In countries with competent and uncorrupted law enforcement agencies, drug syndicates that remains small, inconspicuous, and fly under the radar of enforcement agencies are much more likely to survive than their larger counter parts” (Desroches 833). Higher level drug traffickers closely resemble independent business persons in a wholesale distribution system.
Knowledge and information are tightly controlled which keeps crew members from asking too many questions. “Underlings will know little about the criminal enterprise other than their assigned tasks and may not even be aware of the identity of core members above them in the drug chain” (Desroches 835). Approaching and addressing international drug issues is not a simple task due to numerous contradictions that involve the built in nature of economics, politics, culture, and individual ideologies.
The normal attributes of drugs, as well as the changing characteristics of these mind-altering substances, makes them the center of complex studies that end up producing contradictory and inconclusive reports The United States is currently engaged in a War on Drugs, a war that has been waged for decades and which shows no indication of being successfully concluded in the near future. As with other types of wars, this one has fronts both within the domestic borders as well as in foreign lands, and the war affects the country’s economic policy and shapes relationships with numerous foreign powers.
The United States military and intelligence services are engaged in the war, as are various law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels. Yet drug use and abuse continues to be strong within the United States, and drug interdiction efforts on the international level draw mixed reviews. A legal business “operates under the scrutiny of law enforcement, illicit firms must distribute their goods and services in a secretive manner without the benefits of legal protections afforded to legitimate business” (Desroches 830).
This leaves them where they are not able to secure credit and collect debts. They are also not able to advertise their products and face the high risk of robbery and violence. The two competing views the upper level trafficker face are they are controlled by small number of large highly discipline criminal mafias, and the large number of small independent criminal ran organizations thatcompete with one another for market share. There are several obstacles that stand in the way of trafficking. Some of these include the RCMP, the police, and other such bodies.
However, as for the strength of these bodies in terms of catching criminals in possession of or trafficking drugs the chances are very slim. Most of these people are caught when they are stopped for other related possessions Trafficking drugs exists only because certain drugs are illegal in the United States and elsewhere, and because a shadow and illegal market exists for these drugs. Clientelism is very active in countries such as Rio de Janeiro, and has gradually changed to the coming forth of powerful locally based narcotics traffickers.
Politicians in Rio de Janeiro understand that if they can win the votes of people of favelas (the lower class slums of Rio de Janeiro), they can win their political races. In order for politicians to accomplish winning votes, they turn to drug dealers. Drug dealers influence the favelas heavily and get them to vote for the politicians they say. Once that politician is elected into office the drug dealers are given power from the favors they get from politicians they helped get elected into office.
This has resulted in a double clientelism in which drug traffickers make exchanges with politicians and then turn around and deliver services to favelas themselves. Traffickers regularly threw parties for residents in each of the communities. “It is widely known that traffickers in Rio de Janeiro provide services to favela residents in exchange for their protection from police and other traffickers” (Arias 432). The favela residents have direct contact with the drug traffickers who they feel is in power because of the favors the politicians are providing them. Drug raffickers are a constant presence in favelas who work to provide some degree of regular security and assistance to residents while politicians appear in the favela only around elections which is why “the relationship between politicians and favela residents tends to be much less personal than the relationship between residents and politicians” (Arias 433). The growing tolerance of violence in poor areas among the upper classes and the ongoing relationships many politicians maintain with drug traffickers means that crime has become naturally apart of the political system.
It is unlikely to be controlled without some sort of major political change. Rio de Janeiro’s political system needs violence in order to function. “Politicians depend on relationships with criminals to provide them with secure access to poor communities and, as a result, do little to remove them once in office” (Arias 435). While drug traffickers can work with several politicians in order to get policies or conditions to their liking, favela residents are usually dominated by one gang and cannot choose their trafficker.
As a result “residents negotiating power during electoral periods is weakened by the fusion of a fixed-patron clientelism in which clients have virtually no choice about who their patron will be and of the more flexible neo-clientelism that characterized Rio politics” (Arias 443). Bartilow and Eom argue the effects of trade openness beginning with whether or not it undermines drug interdiction. One argument was the concern of legal cross-border trade in volume provides cover for drug smuggling. As trade openness keeps expanding the volume of legal trade, states’ ability to detect and interdict drug trafficking is severely diminished” (Bartilow and Eom 119). The more openness to trade increases the odds and volume of illegal drugs being smuggled between countries. Over the past decade as trade openness has increased, the top seaports have nearly tripled the amount of containers that have been imported and inspected. “Today, the sheer volume of trade via containerized shipping networks has allowed drug traffickers to conceal illicit cargo and has significantly lowered the probability of being detected by law enforcement. (Bartilow and Eom 119). A second argument by Bartilow and Eom was that trade openness makes it convenient for drug traffickers to launder money and invest in other legal and illegal activities. This increases the power of the drug industry and makes it difficult for officials to monitor the flow of drug money. “Today, drug money is laundered through the stock market, Internet banking and Internet casino, the insurance and real estate industries, credit and debit card schemes, the diamond and gold industries, currency markets, the entertainment industry, and the hotel and rental car industries” (Bartilow and Eom 119).
Bartilow and Eom also argue the effect on a country’s work force as well as the alliances among criminal organizations across different countries. The concern of trade openness enhancing drug interdiction was argued in the following part. The first argument was if the financial gains from trade would decrease the desire to participate in the drug industry. “Trade openness can open new markets to domestic producers who would otherwise resort to exporting illicit drugs” (Bartilow and Eom 120).
The next view agrued that trade openness will increase government revenues and increase the overall drug enforcement capabilities. The increased revenue would provide money to purchase security and surveillance to drug enforcement authorities. Another view was that increased trade openness between border states is that “while trade openness facilitates the integration of markets, it also strengthens cross-national cooperation in the gathering and sharing of intelligence that is relevant in the interdiction and prosecution of drug smugglers” (Bartilow and Eom 121).
This would encourage and increase cross border security between two countries. The final argument was if trade openness does not necessarily affect drug interdiction. There is no evidence to show whether illegal or legal trade is increasing. “Therefore it is not clear what effect trade openness does have on transnational crime, such as drug trafficking, and consequently on the ability of law enforcement to interdict drug smuggling” (Bartilow and Eom 121). Another perspective was whether the financial markets are affected.
Once again there is no evidence towards such a relationship. Most of the arguments she that trade openness undermines drug interdiction has the greatest impact. In conclusion, drug trafficking is an ongoing problem that will not be going anywhere anytime soon. Struggles between politicians and people attempting to make fast money will keep the act of trafficking going forever. Unfortunately it brings down societies both economically and morally. These factors affect the youth of today’s society and their future.
Overall, drug trafficking leads to violence, political corruption, and the loss of many lives. Works Cited Arias, Enrique Desmond. “Trouble en Route: Trafficking and Clientelism in Rio de Janeiro Shantytowns. ” Qualitative Sociology 29. 4 (2006): 427-45. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 Mar. 2010. Bartilow, Horace A. and Kihong Eom. “Free Traders and Drug Smugglers: The Effects of Trade Openness on States’ Ability to Combat Drug Trafficking. ” Latin Americans in Politics and Society 51. 2 (2006): 117-45. _ Academic Search Complete_. Web. 3 Mar. 2010.
Brouwer, Kimberly, et al. “Trends in Production, Trafficking, and Consumption of Methamphetamine and Cocaine in Mexico. ” Substance Use & Misuse 41. 5 (2006): 707-27. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 Mar. 2010. Clarke, Ryan. “Narcotics Trafficking in China: Size, Scale, Dynamic and Future Consequences. ” Pacific Affairs 81. 1 (2008): 73-93. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 Mar. 2010. Desroches, Frederick. “Research on Upper Level Drug Trafficking: A Review. ” _Journal of Drug Issues 37. 4 (2007): 827-44. Academic Search Complete_. Web. 3 Mar. 2010.
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