The United States of America has long grappled with the problem of drugs and has form time to time initiated measures to combat the usage and trafficking of drugs. It is common knowledge that the various wars that have been part of the combat program of several administrations have failed miserably despite the availability of a great deal of resources, added to the colossal funding process. This is in addition to the numerous governmental agencies that operate to curb the drug trade and trafficking. Though the threat of drug usage and illegal trade is looming large, the danger is not always as proportionate as it is painted.
A certain amount of exaggeration that goes along factual details so as to create a sense of grave emergency that would work out to political benefits. But it cannot also be regarded that the threat of drugs and their usage is illusionary. While there is a real and potential threat of the usage and trafficking of drugs, there is the need to crack down upon those practices. But the portraying of a picture that translates to mean a national emergency that needs to be addressed to with immediate effect is at many times more hype and hoopla than accumulation of facts.
The war on drugs, although initiated way back in the period of President Richard Nixon, gained momentum only with the beginning of the year 1980. It should not be assumed that no significant moves were made or strategic results achieved prior to this period. Illegal drug trade in the United States is attributed to a number of factors such as including consumer demand, sources of supply, the organizational strengths and adaptability of criminal groups, and the ability of law enforcement agencies to tackle and take apart drug distribution networks. The 1980s witnessed a rampant trafficking process that upset law enforcement agencies across the United States. A notable transformation in the drug trafficking within the United States was the unbridled growth of cocaine trafficking and abuse.
During the 1980s the supply of Cocaine was so huge and regular that it put off the demand for synthetic drug and phencyclidine or PCP. This era witnessed the consolidation of the cartels in Columbia, Mexico and Spain. In the 1990s Mexico emerged as a strong base for drug traffickers and abusers alike. It was also used as a transit route to smuggle drugs into the United States. This was a time period which saw the Columbian drug trafficking cartels increasing relying on Mexican and Dominican trafficking organizations to smuggle drugs into the United States. Back in Columbia a hundred and fifty odd groups had been traced during the period operating within and across Bogota and Medellin.
Apart from the cartels alone, terrorist groups in Columbia such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Army of national Liberation (ELN) also benefited from the drug trade. By the year 1998 Heroin from South East Asia dominated the East Coast heroin market. Subsequently, Mexico earned the distinction of having become the largest supplier of drugs to the United States. In the year 2002, many DEA identifies cocaine as the primary illicit drug of concern. The Southwest border of the United States has been identified as the weak link in terms of border security. Analyses indicate that over 60% of cocaine that comes into the United States makes its way into the mainland across the Southwest border.
It has also been noted that smuggling is being done in smaller loads as opposed to the conventional method of huge container traffic. Officials observe that not a great deal has changed in the pattern and method of drug trafficking in the light of the events of September 11, 2001. Drug trafficking has become relatively easier owing to technological change and the usage of the internet and other sophisticated communication devices that are virtually untraceable. While law enforcement agencies across the United States are engaged in a daily battle to root out the trafficking process and arrest the influx of drugs, traffickers on the other hand are usually a step further in having engineered new techniques that would ensure a smooth and safe trafficking operation which has evolved into a full fledged industry worth several billion dollars. (DEA Resources for law enforcement agencies, Intelligence Reports)
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is the premier institution in-charge of formulating and inking plans and strategies to counter drug trafficking and abuse. As per several statistics collected by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), federal spending on programs aimed at drug control have rise sharply from $1.5 billion in the year 1985 to a massive $18.5 billion in the year 2000. Given below are a series of tables illustrating the breakup of the federal drug control budget in terms of cost, function and local spending.
Table #1: Total Federal Drug Control Budget
Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)]
In the above table, it can well be noted that the funding made by the federal government has been on the rise since the fiscal year 1981. Not at any point of time has there been a decrease in the funding no matter however insignificant though. The pattern has indicated a very sharp rise over the year from $1.5 billion in the year 1981 to a colossal $18.5 billion in the year 2000.
Table #2: Federal Drug Control Budget by Function
Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)]
The above table indicates various heads, rather areas of function under which the federal government spent money. They can be identified as drug treatment, drug prevention, criminal proceedings and justice, international funding, funding to facilitate interdiction, research and analysis, intelligence gathering and funding programs in South America. The sum total spent on all these heads in the fiscal year 1999 adds up to a massive $17,711,200,000 while the amount spent on the same functions in the next fiscal year 2000 sums up to $18,455,000,000.
It is to be noted that in the year 1999, the federal government did not spend any amount on funding drug control programs in South America. Therefore a null figure has been provided as against that head for that year.
According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), $15.9 billion was spent by state and local governments on drug control measures and programs during the year 1991 alone. This figure is tagged to be a 13% increase over the $14.1 billion that was spent in the year 1990. Given hereunder is a table indicating the State and local spending for drug control.
Table #3: State and local spending for drug control.
Judicial and legal
Health and hospitals
Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)] (Drug Control Budget: U.S. 1981-2000)
Given hereunder is a graph indicating the federal spending aimed at drug control measures and programs on a functional break up from the year 1992 to the year 2000.
Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)] (National Drug Control Strategy - 2001 - ONDCP)
In the United States, currently there are over 2.1 million people behind bars incarcerated due to drug related offences. In the year 2003 alone the Federal government spent $20 billion in its fights against drugs. Another $20 billion were spent by local and state governments in their crusade against drugs. In the United States a drug related arrest is made every twenty seconds. In the year 2003, drug related arrests in the United States have touched 1,579,566.
Despite these huge and appealing statistics from the government's own research that indicates that the taxpayer's money is being put to extensive use in fighting the war on terror even better than before, a simple fact remains bothersome and notable that the use of drugs has not yet been dissuaded. A study indicates that over 91 million Americans have used an illegal drug or related substance at least once in their lifetime. This is a representation of 41% of the population in the United States aged 12 and above. The African-American population of the United States which is estimated at 13% accounts for 13% of drug users.
However, due to a largely racist battle in the drug front, they account for 55% of drug related convictions. The drug war has of late taken a more racist turn and in the process has ended up destroying millions of American families despite a massive spending of a few billion dollars. Over time the government of the United States of America has spent more than $2.5 billion on combating the drug influence being exported courtesy Colombia. The program aims at reducing the inflow of drugs from the Colombian mainland into the United States territory. A huge amount of money and resources are systematically being exhausted on the program which comprises of spraying poisonous chemicals agents on fields that engage in the growing of…