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The Problem of Drug Trafficking and Its Effects in The Us

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Drug trafficking has been happening longer than most people think. Unless it affects us directly we tend to not think of the impact and harm it is causing us, others, and the country we live in. There are several reasons for drug trafficking such as money laundering, illicit finance, illegal firearms, organized immigration crime, production of false documentation, modern slavery, and human trafficking. Drug trafficking can also be known as drug distribution. What drug trafficking truly is, is the crime of selling, transporting, or illegally importing unlawful controlled substances, such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana, or other illegal drugs. Drug trafficking is punished more harshly than drug possession. It is a federal crime when a criminal moves drugs across state lines. If caught with drug trafficking you can be charged with a range from 3-5 years in prison, this number can, however, be higher if larger quantities are involved. In response to drug trafficking, there have been several things done to help and solve the issue. One of these things is the Kingpin Act. the Kingpin Act blocks all property and interests in property within the United States, this act was put into motion on December 3, 1999. There is also OFAC. This stands for the Office of Foreign Assets Control, this enforces economic and trade sanctions. The Kingpin Act’s purpose is to cut off bad actors, or narcotics traffickers and their organizations. Their strength with this program lay within the ability within the government to ensure that non-government actors in the U.S. act as gatekeepers to prevent the narcotic traffickers from moving, making funds and investments as well as purchasing goods and services.

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In the Sinaloa Cartel between 1990-2008, they imported over 200 tons of cocaine and large amounts of heroin. Joaquin Guzman “El Chapo” was the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. After several arrests and escapes from prison, Guzman was arrested by Mexican authorities in 2016. He was then handed over to the United States to face criminal charges in 2017. The Sinaloa Cartel is still active and one of the largest active Cartels.

The Sinaloa Cartel is not the only Cartel, there are still several other active Cartels. One of these Cartels is the Gulf Cartel, they worked with Los Zetas which is a group made up of former elite military members, which eventually became hitmen for the Gulf. In 2010 these two groups split, which lead to a bloody fallout. This bloody fallout has been referred to as the most violent organized crime in Mexico. The Los Zetas group has had a reputation for cruel violence such as, leaving body parts in public areas and posting killings on the internet. In 2013 their leader, Miguel Angel Trevino, was arrested. In a 2015 Congressional Research Service report, Mexican drug wars took more than 80,000 lives between 2006 and 2015. Drug trafficking is the United States is still a major concern. Organizations in the Middle East such as the Taliban and al-Qaida are playing a major role in the shipment and production of illegal substances. A report in 2014 showed that Americans spent about $100 billion on illegal substances.

Law enforcement is greatly affected by drug trafficking. It has been affected negatively in several ways, such as crime rates increasing. There is now an increased health risk, they can inadvertently come in contact with newer and more potent drugs while on the job with criminals. Trafficking also affects it negatively by pulling focus and money away from other needed services and programs, due to putting the focus and money towards funding the drug task force. By these funds being diverted, it affects both local and federal law enforcement agencies. It also has caused crimes to become more severe and violent. The intensity of the crimes has increased putting law enforcement workers more at risk on a daily basis. Leading to more murders, deaths, stabbings, shootings, theft, and even crimes against children. The age range of drug trafficking and drug possession has increased significantly, the age of those involved can range from the very young to the very old. The drug community does not discriminate or exclude any age population.

Our country has also been greatly affected by immigration, due to the increased amount of drugs being trafficked into the United States. In order to combat the issue, our country has had to tighten up on its immigration laws, in order to decrease the amount of drugs being trafficked. This, in turn, affects people who are trying to better themselves and find a better way in life in our country who would be productive citizens. One of the ways we want to tighten the border is by building a wall “The president wants a physical barrier along the border between Mexico and the US to prevent people from crossing over it illegally.” (BBC,” 2019, para. 1) President Trump has hopes that by building a wall, he’ll be able to decrease the number of illegal immigrants. By decreasing the number of illegal immigrants it will also hopefully decrease the number of illegal drugs being imported.

Welfare is also another big issue impacting our economy and country. By permitting illegal immigrants the ability to come into our country, we have had to pay for their medical services and nutritional supplements. By doing this it takes away funding from other American citizens that are contributing to society. It also helps increase our national debt. By allowing the use of federal assistance for basic needs this, in turn, allows the immigrants to send untaxed money to their families in their homeland. By allowing these untaxed dollars to be sent back to their homeland, the United States is helping to bolster these foreign economies. Not to mention the monetary gain that illegal immigrants manage to obtain through illegal drug trafficking.

Due to drug trafficking, the amount of crime increased. Often illicit drugs and violence are automatically contacted due to past cases of them being the cause. Shockingly though, illegal drug markets or generally at peace; however, there are some drug markets that are high in violence and cause the general idea that drug markets are the common reason for violence. Mexico is a great example of this, they have had drug trafficking within their community for a century, and even though there are murders associated with drugs, the drug markets within Mexico are relatively peaceful. It started to become more violent in the last 3 decades. Mexico had changed to a multiparty democracy, which in turn had caused the drug trafficking issue to become significantly worse, due to the drug trade being moved to Mexico. At this time Mexico’s politics and institutions where in flux, which in turn caused them to not be able to address the issue that they tended to make worse. Around 2010 the illegal drug income was one-third of Afghanistan’s GDP; however, the drug violence was extremely low. Due to studies and the empirical evidence, there isn’t a direct connection between drugs and violence. When there are very large and easy to acquire drugs it doesn’t come naturally for people to kill each other for them. However, the leader of a cartel or solo drug dealers may. This may be because of them getting cheated of money or drugs. When it comes to the citizens though, it is unlikely that they will kill each other if it is easy to acquire drugs. Drug lords may but not citizens. Many people tend to tie things such as income and wealth inequality, economic crisis, frustrated expectations, and corruption to drug violence, even though these things may play a role in them it doesn’t always mean that it is a cause of it. Meaning that when these examples occur, so does crime and drugs. Drugs aren’t the only reason that crime increases. An economic crisis alone can cause an increase in crime. The criminal’s motivational theory shows that with an increase of economic stress a criminal’s motivation also changed; however, this doesn’t support the criminal’s opportunity. Due to the decreased levels of production and consumption, this can reduce some crimes such as property crime.

Even though we may not be able to realize it, we have affected the drug cartels and have hurt its business. When Michigan, North Dakota, Utah, and Missouri decided to make marijuana legal last year. Mexico quickly felt the effects of this. Since pot was made legal the amount of pot being smuggled in by Mexican drug cartels has lowered. In 2014 there were around 2.5- 3.0 million pounds of pot being smuggled into the United States. In 2018 there was 0.5 million pounds being smuggled in. however, due to the decrease in marijuana, there has been an increase in meth being smuggled into the United States. The seizure of fentanyl quadrupled to nearly 1,400 pounds. It is very unlikely that the U.S will legalize drugs like fentanyl or methamphetamine. Due to the decrease in seizure in pot, Mexican Cartels are now attempting to create more potent marijuana to help keep them within US demand. There have now been cases of US marijuana being smuggled into Mexico.

When it comes to the Mexican cartels smuggling in drugs there are several ways they do this. One way, they do this through drug mules. Drug mules used to be a very popular movement for drug smuggling; however, now they have moved to more advanced techniques. One of the more modern ways they smuggle drugs into the US is by aircraft, self-propelled semi-submersibles, container ships, fishing boats, pleasure boats, non-commercial vessels, and there are also fast boats that the cartels will use to try to outrun the United States law enforcement assets. Drug cartels look for guaranteed ways to transport narcotics over the board, and one of the ways they can do this by creating tunnels. Cartels get very creative when making these tunnels, due to the fact that they have to be very secretive about the exit and entrances. There have been entrances that have been pool tables, hydraulic bathtubs, electrical panels, and elevators. There was an exit in the US that was found that every time it was used it was filled with concrete, painted, and recarpeted. So clearly they pay attention to detail and try their best to cover it up. The people who are trained to find these tunnels even have stated that it is extremely hard to find them. In an article made in 2015, a trained professional stated that since 2006 they had only found 11 of these sophisticated tunnels.

Believe it or not, the members of a cartel aren’t always the ones who distribute the drugs. There have been/ still are instances where the cartels will team up with American gangs. The Cartels need someone who is familiar with life on the American streets. The gang members get paid drug money in exchange to do the cartels work. Such as kidnappings, murders, intimidating others, and stealings. The Cartels get the majority of the money from the drug trades while the gangs get the heat from law enforcement. To cover up criminal activity some gang members keep up with jobs. One of the things gang members are known for is their violent nature. March of 2011 members of the Barrio Azteca were accused of killing two US citizens, one being a US consulate and the other being a sheriff’s deputy. This US couple was ambushed in their car after they had left a birthday party, Mexican police found the couples infant crying in the backseat of the car. This was filed as a high profile killing, and the motive for the killing had not been disclosed. Barrio Azteca is one of the most notorious gangs that has ties within the Mexican Cartels. This gang operates mostly in the US- Mexican border between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. This gang was founded in a Texas prison in 1986. This gang recruiters people on the grounds of prisons and jails in Texas. There is often communication between cartels and gang members through the jail. Top-level gang members can/ and are inside the prison; therefore causing the gang members on the street needing an effective, but a secret way of communicating with them. They will send coded letters that most likely goes through a lieutenant. Then the lieutenant will forward the message over to one of the captions and then from there, the caption will give the final say. The main source of communication in prison and out on the streets is coded letters and coded phone calls. Top-level hits/ attacks are normally ordered by the cartel first and then acted/ carried out by the gang, the way this is possible is because the gang is transnational, meaning they work on both sides of the border. Normally for a big hit/attack, it is carried through top-level gang members first before being acted out.

People who may have joined a cartel and have moved to the US often send mone back home to their families, in doing this it bolsters the economy back in their homeland. Immigrants living within the US send more than $54 billion back to their homelands. This amount could compound economic difficulties that some lowed paid workers are already facing. During President Trump’s campaign and proposed to block some of the payments to Mexico unless the countries leader gave over billions of dollars to build a southern border wall. However, this idea was shot down by immigrates rights advocates. When this idea was brought up many argued the point that this in return would just create a black market of underground payments.

The people who are in and involved in drug trafficking see it as a business. Either there is little or no attachment to their homelands. They see it has a business and because they are apart if such a violent and demanding group they normally aren’t allowed to leave their potion within the group. If their position is in the US while their family is in Mexico they can’t request to be let go and be granted it. When being involved with drugs, and much less a cartel it is much harder to get out the situation. “A little coca that the grower sold for 80cents will be refined and processed and sold to a wealthy user for more than $190,000. The price markup is so high because everyone involved in the illegal drug trafficking chain must get a share of the profits” (Stewart, Gail B. Drug Trafficking. Lucent Book, 1990.) Due to the pay, there’re many people who don’t want to leave the industry because if they were to be sending money back home then they would be able to send a good amount of money back to their families but they would also be able to have enough left over for them to be able to have a good lifestyle if they wanted in the US.

Return migration is a broad term, due to the fact, there is two types of return migration, voluntary return, and forced return. Voluntary return migration can and does happen however it is not as common as forced return migration. Due to the immigrants that come into the United States tend to get better opportunities such as housing, jobs, and ordinary day to day materials needed.

Drug wars in Mexico have caused families to come into the United States to get a better aspect of life and a better and safer way of living. Unfortunately, this has also come with illegal immigrants to come into our country and not contribute to our economy. For families in Mexico who are in the path of cartel activity, when nightfall comes they will hide behind locked doors, due to the fact that no one is safe. Schools and transportation services often close due to a worker, or teacher being threatened in some type of way by a cartel member. Cartels or gang members will often post planned hits on social media websites, they will use slang and nicknames to convey their intentions. Many threats or violence aren’t reported due to the known fact by some that the municipal, federal police, military, and government officials, take bribes, just look away, or associated with criminal activity if not collaborators. In 2014 there were several students protesting for a teacher and they were abducted by the police and turned over to a presumed to be killed by a local drug gang. The Mexican government has also not been helping with this drug situation. They declared their own “war on drugs” however their plan to fix it had resulted in more violence and homicide. Mexico is wanting to use the military as a police source; however military soldiers have been through more crucial and ragged training than police officers.

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In conclusion, there are several steps that go into drug trafficking and due to drug trafficking, it has hurt our economy and country more than we are aware or are willing to admit. We also are not as educated about drug trafficking situations as we should. Therefore, causing us to not be able to have a rightful say on how to deal with situations such as drug trafficking or migration. Before we are able to put in our opinion and idea on how to help our country first we need to get properly educated on it. There are clearly many things about drug trafficking that we are not informed of. There are also many things about immigration that we are not informed of either. Many people do not know how violent Mexico can be unless they do the proper research. Money plays a bigger role in all of these topics I have written about than most realize. Many people also do not know how creative drug traffickers have to be when it comes to hiding tunnel exits and entrances, or the process or ways they smuggle drugs into the US. Lastly, most US citizens don’t hoe much drug trafficking is till affected our country.

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