Reducing Drug Trafficking In the United States

Executive Summary

The negative effect of illicit drugs is well known and documented. The use and abuse of illicit drugs has in the recent past threatened the security and health of many nations. The United States of America has been documented as the country with the highest expenditure on drugs.

This makes it a lucrative market for drug traffickers all over the world. Despite this alarming fact, efforts to mitigate drug use and trafficking have to a larger extent proven to be futile. Considering the negative impact that drugs have on the fabric of society, it would be a worthwhile endeavor to come up with better means of mitigating drug trafficking in the United States. To this end, this research paper shall utilize various sources of information to highlight the scope of the problem and how it can be mitigated. To achieve this, a detailed analysis of relevant literature shall be provided and findings discussed.

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All this shall aim at presenting a comprehensive and well documented research as to how drug trafficking in the United States can be reduced.


In the recent past, drug trafficking has been among the most controversial topic under discussion. This topic has gained much prominence due to the economic and health implications that have developed from drug trafficking. Arguably, our societies appear unprepared for many of the consequences that have emerged as a result of drug trafficking. According to Brown (2000), the international drug trade receives revenue of about $300-$400 billion annually. Such an operational budget has enabled drug traffickers to come up with better means of transporting, hiding and producing these drugs. This not only makes it hard to track them, but ensures that their drugs are distributed accordingly without fear of consequences (DIANE Publishing, 2010). It is from this sad state of affairs that concerned parties propose for measures to reduce drug trafficking in America.

In that regard, this study shall highlight various recommendations as to how drug trafficking can be mitigated.

Scope of the problem

In the past four decades, Latin America has played a significant role in the cultivation, production, trafficking and distribution of illegal drugs across the world. Recent statistics indicate that South America has emerged as the leading producer and supplier of cocaine in the world market. In addition, opiate supplied in the United States originate from Mexico and Columbia. On the same note, Mexico and the Caribbean have been documented as being among the major source of marijuana and methamphetamine that is consumed in the United States. In regard to drug consumption, America provides the largest market for these drugs, followed by Canada and the UK.

Despite these alarming revelations, the war on drugs has had little to no success in mitigating this national scourge. This is mostly attributed to the fact that the United States government lack adequate resources in terms of manpower, technology and finances needed to effectively eradicate the menace.

Effects of drug trafficking in the United States

Nations around the world have acknowledged that drug trafficking is a pandemic that needs to be addressed if societies are to prevail.

The United States is among the first nation that shares this sentiment. This is mainly because it provides the largest market for most of the illegal drugs. Go (2010) states that a survey conducted by Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration (SAMHSA) posted startling statistics on drug use in American households. According to the statistics, “an estimated 14.8 million Americans currently use illicit drugs.

In addition, an estimated 6.4 million Americans use cocaine, heroin and hallucinogens (National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 2009; as cited by Go, 2010)”. Drug trafficking and use affects people from all backgrounds leading to life-long dependency issues, violence, and anti-social behaviors. For example, Ojeda (2002) states that the US looses more than $70 billion dollars to illnesses, deaths and crimes related to drugs. It would seem as though the people involved in this trade are unaware of the fact that it directly or indirectly affects them, their families and the fabric of the societies they live in.

Prevalence of drug trafficking in the US

As mentioned earlier, drug trafficking has been increasing at an alarming rate in America.

This is surprising especially when we consider the large amounts of tax payers’ money that is directed towards combating this scourge. Diverse groups have been blamed for trafficking illicit drugs into America using various routes. Some of the known routes include South American land, maritime, sea and air route. There are some factors that have contributed to the existence of this trade. Organized crime organizations (DTOs) involved in drug trafficking have in the recent past proliferated Mexico and the United States. This has led to an increased supply of drugs in these countries. According to recent statistics, The United States is the leading country in money spent on illegal substances (United Nations, 2010).

These drug trafficking organizations are at best complex criminal groups outfitted with sophisticated equipments, tactics and manpower that suit the trade (Seelke, 2010). Most of the groups’ activities are aimed at increasing their influence, market as well as popularity with their potential clientele. According to United Nations (2010), DTOs have political affiliations that protect them from anti-drug agencies. In countries such as Mexico, drug cartels have significant influence on political matters.

This is among the key reason as to why the country is among the leaders in drug trafficking. Economically, the revenue received by traffickers has to a great extent motivated them to supply even more drugs to the US. According to Brown (2000), the international drug trade receives revenue of about $300-$400 billion annually. Such an operational budget has enabled drug traffickers to come up with better means of transporting, hiding and producing these drugs. This not only makes it hard to track them, but ensures that their drugs are distributed accordingly without fear of consequences (DIANE Publishing, 2010). Another contributing factor is corruption. By definition, corruption refers to the use of available resources or designated power for purposes other than the intended ones or for personal gains.

It is a very relative concept because it comes in different forms depending on the situation or action taken. In the current society, this vice has rapidly penetrated the social, political and economic realms and is causing pain and suffering to everyone whom it affects. Corruption comes in various forms and is exhibited at various levels of the society. Perhaps the most rampant and damaging form of corruption is political corruption which refers to a dysfunction in a political system whereby government or political officials and employees use their ranks or the resources allocated to them for personal gains (Shahidullah, 2010).

While all manners of corruption are inherently damaging to the society, this particular form of corruption poses the most significant threat since it is the political bodies in our country that are charged with guiding the nation to prosperity and success. Most government officials and law enforcers have been accused of taking bribes from drug traffickers. This has greatly facilitated drug trafficking in the US.

Reduction of drug trafficking in America

After acknowledging that drug trafficking was indeed a serious threat. The previous government declared war on drugs. The war on drugs is the term used to refer to a campaign that was launched with the sole aim of curbing the rise of drugs in USA.

The US government under President Bush introduced this war in an attempt to face out drug trafficking groups that were threatening the peace and stability of the nation. The war included various military, legal, political and ideological actions that would be taken against drug traffickers. The main objectives of the war on drugs include but are not limited to; protection of all US citizens and those of her allies. Crippling the cultivation, production and distribution channels of all drug trafficking organizations is one of the methods through which the above aims were going to be achieved. The need for war on drugs is especially accentuated by the rise of an effective and dangerous breed of traffickers who are not only well trained, but also have been blinded by the lucrative financial gains accrued from this trade. In addition to this, the traffickers are fanatical in nature who boast of a well organized network and hence, willing to die so as to reach their objectives. It is in view of these that the US government led by President Bush decided to wage an extensive war in an effort to protect the country.

One of the means through which the strength and influence of drug trafficking organizations have been significantly curtailed is by cutting their finances. This has been through the freezing of bank accounts suspected to belong to drug cartels and the imposition of measures to detect and stop money laundering by the trafficking organizations. While these measures have had significant successes all over the world, failing and failed states continue to be hubs through which cash for drug trafficking activities and resources can be smuggled through. This cash is then used to finance trafficking cells which can distribute in the US. Another strategy is the implementation of local law enforcement agencies.

Local law enforcers have powers which give them the ability to work at the local level in a manner that federal authorities cannot. A report from the 5th Annual Sovereign Challenge Conference; as cited by Shahidullah (2010) revealed that while the federal government is supreme in matters that pertain to external security and foreign affairs, they have a fairly restricted scope when it comes to local operations. This is a fact that is corroborated by Finnegan (2005) who states that local law enforcers have deeper resources than the federal agencies which enables them to perform their anti-narcotic works at the local level more effectively.

This is a very important strategy since most of the money is received when the product reaches the consumers. Local law enforcers are therefore better placed to prevent this. In so doing, drug users will not be able to access the drugs and the distributors will not have enough money to resupply. Another key component in this war against drug trafficking is the reduction in supply of illegal drugs into America. As Warner (2010) states, the availability of drugs in our streets increases the likelihood of them being abused. One of the most effective methods that can used to attain this is by frustrating the production process of these drugs.

This is done by identifying the plantations and destroying them before the drugs are produced. Admittedly, this may be a hard task since most of the plantations are well hidden in the forests. However, success in this strategy may go a long way in reducing the end product that gets to the market. Similarly, the US government should invest more on the coordination of interdiction operations. This means that various law enforcement agencies work together in this fight against drugs trafficking. As Kleiman (2011) acknowledges, law enforcement agencies can never get all the drugs that get into our country. However, the author proposes that if different agencies work together, they shall in the end reduce the amount of drugs that manage to penetrate these coordinated efforts.

For this to be effective, the US government has instituted a task force that specializes in the capturing of drug dealers and traffickers. In addition, efforts to train similar agencies in neighboring countries have also been implemented. Cutting the supply line at the source is the most efficient way of ensuring that drugs do not get into the US. In this regard, the government has allocated immense resources towards availing the necessary skills, expertise, technology and manpower to countries that traffic drugs in America.

The success of this strategy can be seen from the increased confiscation of various drugs across various trafficking routes. Additionally, the government has also promoted transit zone operations. Transit zones refer to the routes that are commonly used to traffic particular goods from one area to another. In this regard, a detailed analysis of the known transit zones has been outlined. To this end, the weaknesses that are exploited by drug traffickers have been identified and countermeasures implemented. As Warner (2010) reiterates, having a task force that thoroughly patrols the land, waters and monitors airplane activities around the transit zones will not only frustrate the trafficking industry, but will also cut off the supply line thereby de-motivating traffickers from this trade.

Finally, stricter policies and punishments should be imposed on individuals caught trafficking, selling or using illicit drugs. Shahidullah (2010) argues that most traffickers are not afraid of the consequences since they can easily circumvent the law. However, administering harsh punishments to corrupt officials and individuals found guilty of facilitating drug use may in the end deter others from joining the trade.


Drug trafficking is a serious menace to our society. Not only does it lead to social ills such as violence, robbery and antisocial behaviors, but it also threatens the prosperity of our societies by limiting our abilities to perform, all the while shattering the hopes and dreams of many a citizens. From this paper, a detailed analysis of the problem has been provided. The effects of drug trafficking in the US have been highlighted and logical explanations regarding its prevalence given.

Ways in which the menace has been reduced have also been outlined. However, a deeper look into how this menace can be reduced is not only logical, but a necessary endeavor towards securing a better tomorrow.


Brown, M. (2000).

America’s strategic choices. USA: MIT Press. DIANE Publishing. (2010).

National Drug Control Strategy 2010. New York: DIANE Publishing. Go, P. (2010). How Drug Trafficking Affects the United States and Its Youth. Retrieved 19 March, 2010 from http://ezinearticles.

com/?How-Drug-Trafficking-Affects-The-United-States-And-Its-Youth&id=1159614 Kleiman, M. (2011). Encyclopedia of Drug Policy. Washington, DC: SAGE. Ojeda, A. (2002).

Drug trafficking. California: Greenhaven Press. Seelke, C.

(2010). Latin America and the Caribbean: Illicit Drug Trafficking and U. S.

Counterdrug Programs. New York: DIANE Publishing. Shahidullah, S. (2010). Crime policy in America: laws, institutions, and programs. New York: University Press of America.

Sherman, J. (2010). Drug Trafficking. USA: ABDO.

United Nations. (2010). Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2009. USA: United Nations Publications. Warner, J. (2010).

U.S. Border Security: A Reference Handbook. New Jersey: ABC-CLIO.


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