"Drag trafficking is an activity that involves the importation, manufacturing, cultivation, distribution, and/or sale of illicit drags.
In this hierarchical system, narcotics are moved from smugglers, growers, or manufacturers to wholesalers who pass the product down through the chain of distribution to retailers and eventually to the consumer or drug user"
(Desroches, 2007, ¶ 1).
Despite the problems inherent in drug abuse promoted by drug trafficking from Mexico and other countries as well as by individuals living in America, United States (U.S.) consumers continue to spend billions of dollars each year on illegal drugs. Producing and supplying illegal drugs currently comprises a massive global business venture expected to continue to grow; negatively impacting the way a person's mind and body works. Drug trafficking portrays the supply side of the drug trade. In the book, Drug trafficking. What if we do nothing?, Harris (2009) explains that in the U.S., drug trafficking constitutes illegal trading of drugs, while on an international scale; it simultaneously depicts a criminal activity. Drug traffickers cater to, albeit, at the same time exploit problem drug users. The United Nations defined drug users as "people who inject a drug or make regular or long-term use of opium-based drugs, cocaine, or amphetamines" (p. 4). During the current paper, the writer argues that as drug trafficking constitutes an illegal, criminal activity that critically contributes to the demise of individuals and ultimately the society in which they live, the ongoing war against drug trafficking in the U.S. should continue. That war, however, should differ from current practices primarily focusing on arresting drug traffickers and focus more on prevention of drug abuse and treatment of drug abusers; leading to decreasing the demand for illicit drugs. The potential for personal enhancement and financial gain reportedly comprise the primary lure for illicit drug trafficking. During the study, "Research on upper level drug trafficking: A review," Desroches (2007) explains: "By its very nature, drag trafficking involves social networks in which several persons engage in an ongoing illegal commercial activity for profit" (¶ 1). No clear consensus exists, however, as to what comprises upper level drug trafficking. Terms the literature utilizes to describe the various roles of individuals involved in drug trafficking include dealers, distributors, drug-brokers, go-betweens, facilitators, importers, smugglers, suppliers, wholesalers, and drug traffickers.
The U.S. War on Drugs, which includes drug trafficking, gained momentum following the speech former U.S. President Richard Nixon made during June 1971; declaring the use of illegal drugs in America as the country's number one public enemy. The expansive borders of America as well as its large, affluent population position it as the world's most tempting target for drug traffickers. A year earlier, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 had become the basis for all later drug policy in the United States. In addition to the act categorizing drugs into five groups, based on their abuse pattern and medicinal usefulness, the Controlled Substance Act also formed new Federal agencies to battle drug use and trafficking (Harris, 2009). Drug trafficking proves so profitable that almost as soon as a member of law enforcement arrests one dealer - another dealer takes over the business. "If users stop wanting to buy drugs, however, the entire trade would collapse. Therefore, some governments are focusing on reducing demand by helping people overcome their addiction" (Harris, 2009, p. 40). Statistics reveal that the U.S., albeit, has repeatedly invested more funds to initiate stronger action against illegal drug traffickers than on treatment and prevention initiatives. The following figure portrays the millions of dollars the U.S. has invested in drug prevention and treatment; compared to anti-trafficking efforts during the years from 2002 to 2008.
U.S. National and International Drug War Spending (Harris, 2009, p. 41).
In the book, The U.S.-Mexican border into the twenty-first century, Ganster, author and Director of the Institute for Regional Studies of the Californias, San Diego State University, and Lorey (2008), also a prominent author as well as Program Officer for Latin America at the Hewlett Foundation in Menlo Park, California, report that by 2006, according to the President's Office of National Drug Control Strategy, 65% of narcotics trafficked and sold in the U.S. market entered across the southwest border. "The U.S. government estimates that Mexican traffickers receive more than $13.8 billion in revenue from illicit drug sales to the United States" (Ganster & Lorey, 2008, p.176). Mexican officials have argued that their drug traffickers are not the primary problem contributing to the drug trafficking problems in the United States; that Mexico's extensive drug restriction programs could not alter the fact the U.S. market signifies the primary stimulant to drug trafficking. As the drug trade envelops a number of facets other than trafficking, to combat the problem, law enforcement must also go after drug trade organizations, dealers, farmers and producers, smugglers and users. In the book, Drug Trafficking, Sherman (2010) stresses that even though the U.S. invests billions of dollars each year to combat drug trafficking and other aspects of drug abuse, the drug trade remains active and continues to flourish. Sherman also asserts that drug trade components like drug trafficking prove to be deeply rooted in not only the economy of the U.S., but also in the global economy. In addition:
Drug trafficking organizations [operating in the U.S. As well as in other countries] are often very powerful and extremely dangerous. They often operate in [out of] countries with weak governments, and they are often able to corrupt local law enforcement.
Decriminalization or legalization of drug use might be an effective way to control drug trafficking because it would make the drug trade easier to monitor. However, softening the laws may make drug use seem more socially acceptable and lead to increased drug use. (Sherman, 2010, p. 100)
Some perceive drug dealers as entrepreneurs involved in "enterprise crime" and argue that drag trafficking shares traits with legitimate businesses. Drug dealing, according to this conception "represents ongoing market activity in which participants must procure a quality product at reasonable prices, compete for clients, market their drags, collect payments, and pay their bills including the fees, commissions, and/or salaries of people who work for them" (Desroches, 2007, The business of . . . Section, ¶ 1). Those individuals who are pro-drug trafficking view drugs are commodities and consider traffickers to be performing like entrepreneurs and wholesalers; providing a product to clients and/or dealers beneath them in the drug distribution chain. The traffickers, similar to individuals engaged in licit markets, focus on profit; attempting to minimize risks, as they consider their competition, and seek out economic opportunities. Traffickers "view themselves as entrepreneurs, and that being a good 'businessman' is the ultimate compliment in the drug trade" (Desroches, 2007, The business of . . . Section, ¶ 1). As significant differences exist, albeit, between legal and illegal firms, the manner in which the two types of firms function dramatically differs. Because the illicit drug trafficking businesses in the U.S. must operate under the scrutiny of law enforcement, they not only have to distribute their goods and services in a secretive manner -- they do not have particular benefits legal protections affords to businesses that operate legally. Drug traffickers cannot openly advertise their products. In the legal realm, they experience restrictions in their ability to collect debts and/or secure credit. The risk of robbery and other violence often increases for drug traffickers. They encounter increased challenges when they attempt to expand their operations and even though doing business in a high-risk underworld, must employ trustworthy workers and clients. The strategies drug traffickers utilize to manage their risks depict one defining feature of the illicit drug trade. Those strategies affect the profit the drug trafficking venture makes as well as the modus operandi of drug syndicates including their composition, organization, size, and structure (Desroches, 2007). In the article, "A report from the front lines in the War on Drugs," Goodman (2009) notes that a number of countries outside the U.S. have discovered that treating their country's societal drug problems to primarily constitute a criminal matter proves both ineffective and counterproductive. This method, professionals in these countries argue, enhances the profitability related to drug trafficking and increases the violence related to black markets. These countries argue that taxpayer dollars invested in treatment and education prove much more effective than money spent employing drug cops, paying fees for drug prosecutors, and building/maintaining jail cells. Goodman contends: "The United States should have learned these lessons during its failed experiment with alcohol prohibition in the 1920s. . . . [The U.S.] also might have learned from the past 25 years of the War on Drugs" (11). Meantime, as the War on Drugs in the U.S. continues, illegal drugs have become more readily available. Violence associated with black markets has continued to claim thousands of lives. The temptation for those engaged in drug trafficking to expand their drug business realm; anticipating even more amounts of untraceable cash, still has ultimately corrupted more…