Five Major Street Drugs Essay

Length: 6 pages Sources: 1+ Subject: Sports - Drugs Type: Essay Paper: #34743528 Related Topics: Drug Cartel, Border Patrol, Drug Trafficking, War On Drugs
Excerpt from Essay :

¶ … flow of drugs into the United States, where the drugs are coming from, in what forms they come in and the general attitudes that are taken against the practice by both the United States law enforcement agencies in particular and the United Nations drug control treaties. The author of this report will answer all of those questions in detail and provide the proper sourcing and citations for the same. While some modest successes are made when it comes to the "war on drugs," the United States law enforcement collective is losing the battle and there is a difference of strategy when it comes to a comparison between the United Nations and the United States.

The first question is fairly specific and brief. For each of the five major illicit drugs that are available and that are used in the United States, there will be a summary of what each one is, the routes that the drugs take when they enter the United States and the main traffickers of the same. The drive illicit drugs that shall be focused on are cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine and MDMA. Cocaine, per the DEA manual on drugs, cocaine is produce almost exclusively (90%) in Columbia. The coca leaves from which the substance is drawn are cultivated there and then developed in remote jungle laboratories in Columbia. Just as most of the manufactured cocaine in the world comes from the same place, the travel path it takes is almost always the same. Nine times out of ten, cocaine is trafficked to the United States via the Central America/Mexico corridor (DEA, 2011). Cocaine is usually trafficked by Colombia cartels with two of the more infamous ones being the Medellin and Cali cartels (PBS, 2015).

On the other hand, heroin comes from foreign sources a lot of the time as well but those sources and the precise destinations within the United States do vary. Heroin comes in two primary forms, the dark kind and the white kind. The root ingredient of heroin comes from Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, Mexico and Columbia. The black tar (dark) heroin is made primarily in the United States and makes its way to the Western United States. The lighter/whiter variety of heroin has its genesis in Columbia and filters mostly to the East Coast of the United States. Either way, the drugs come from Central (Mexico) or South (Colombia) America and filter up from there (DEA, 2011). As one can imagine, the people in the heroin "food chain" include the poppy producers in countries like Afghanistan as well as those that actually import the drug, which typically happens from Central or South America as noted above (NBC, 2015).

Unlike the prior two drugs mentioned, marijuana can come from any number of places. Indeed, any drug dealer or distributor that has the means to construct and operate a grow operations can grow and distribute marijuana. Marijuana is sold legally for medical or even recreational use in many corners of the United States. Given all that, marijuana is grown anywhere from the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America or even Asia. It is a drug that can be grown in both outdoor and indoor areas of operation. The actual people distributing and selling the drug can range from legitimate business owners to low-level dealers who grow a few plants. Many people grow their own marijuana (DEA, 2011; Ferner, 2015).

Methamphetamine is actually in the same class as cocaine (and crack, which is a derivative of cocaine) in that they are stimulants. However, the sources from which methamphetamine comes and how it's made is completely different. In short, methamphetamine is a stimulant like cocaine (as just mentioned) but it is produced almost exclusively in the United States...


The drug in question would be ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. In other words, anyone with the know-how and resources can produce, use and sell their own meth as they wish, much like cocaine. Like marijuana, there are not a few big players but instead a bunch of small ones (DEA, 2011; UNODC, 2014).

Finally, this brings us to MDMA, which is quite often referred to as ecstasy and a variety of street names such as "E" and XTC. When it comes to the actual point of creation and manufacture, MDMA has similarities to cocaine as well as meth or marijuana in that there some local operations within the United States in the form of laboratories. It takes a good amount of money and resources to manufacture MDMA. As such, while it is sometimes made in the United States, it is quite common for it to originate and travel from Canada and from the Netherlands in Europe. The amount of labs actually in the United States is actually quite small (DEA, 2011). MDMA trafficking usually entails a supplier/manufacturer (usually in Canada) that gets the drugs made and gets them to the United States and then drug dealing rings in the latter get the product sold to the people who want to consume it. The labs who make MDMA are usually buried in the Canadian wilderness and they are run by syndicate leaders with lots of money but also a nefarious desire for profit (Scinto, 2013).

Question Two

When it comes to the United Nations and their stance on the trafficking and use of illegal drugs, perhaps the best place to look would be the commentary done on the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances as authored in 1988. The one major takeaway to learn from the United Nations verbiage on the subject of drug law enforcement is that the focus would and should be on higher-level targets such as the traffickers and dealers themselves rather than the people who are using the drug. As explained by the aforementioned United Nations document, "while, however, the decision was taken to deal in article 3, paragraph 2, with offenses of possession, purchase, cultivation aimed at personal consumption, it was recognized that for various reasons, including considerations of expense and administrative practicality, the obligations imposed in certain key areas such as extradition, confiscation and mutual legal assistance would be restricted to the more serious trafficking offenses established" (United Nations, 1988). In other words, the United Nations states they want to curtail the drug trade but in the form of attacking and going after the larger players in the game rather than targeting lower-level users.

Indeed, the United States is like this in many regards. However, how much that holds true would really depend on what level of law enforcement one is speaking about. When it comes to the actions and priorities of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the United States Coast Guard, the Border Patrol personnel and so forth, much of the focus would indeed be on the bigger players as the primary target of all of those agencies would be manufacturers, smugglers or high-end dealer networks. The same can obviously not be said about lower level law enforcement agencies like the states, county and local police forces of the United States. When it comes to those agencies, they are often quite concerned about even minor possession. In many to most situations, people caught with even a scintilla of heroin, cocaine, crack, methamphetamine or MDMA (Ecstasy) are charged a felony. There are indeed enhanced charges for people with larger amounts as it is assumed (even if unproven) that people carrying more than a certain amount are either dealing or trafficking the substance in question. Marijuana is a mixed bag. The federal policy on marijuana is still technically that it is illegal but the Obama Administration has eased up on enforcement, at least in some ways, when it comes to the drug. A lot of this is related to states that have legalized either medicinal or recreational use of marijuana.

The above actions by police and the ensuing prosecution, fining and jailing of even minor users has been referred to by many as the proverbial war on drugs. However, many assert that the war on drugs is being lost (or has already been lost) based on the aggregate results that are found from focusing too much on low-level users and not the main traffickers or the fact that the borders of the United States are quite porous and easy to sneak drugs across. There is also the problem that many drugs that are plaguing the country and/or law enforcement system are able to be made in someone's living room, with marijuana and methamphetamine being the more obvious examples of that phenomenon (Murphy, 2015; PBS, 2015).

In short, both the United States and the United Nations have their major sights set on high-level activity such as manufacturing, importation and dealing. However, the resources that are apparently made available for those purposes are at odds with the amount of product that…

Sources Used in Documents:


DEA. (2011). Drugs of Abuse - 2011 Edition (pp. 1-79). Washington DC: Drug

Enforcement Agency.

Ferner, M. (2015). Colorado Introduces Major Shift In Its Marijuana Program. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 23 August 2015, from

Murphy, G. (2015). Have We Lost the War on Drugs?. WSJ. Retrieved 23 August 2015,
York. Retrieved 23 August 2015, from
PBS. (2015). The Business - Colombian Traffickers | Drug Wars | FRONTLINE | PBS. Retrieved 23 August 2015, from / shows/drugs/business/inside/colombian.html Retrieved 23 August 2015, from
Retrieved 23 August 2015, from
2015, from
2015, from

Cite this Document:

"Five Major Street Drugs" (2015, August 23) Retrieved January 23, 2022, from

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"Five Major Street Drugs", 23 August 2015, Accessed.23 January. 2022,

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