In fact, one of the things that many Americans may fail to understand is that there is a relationship between the domestic narcotics industry and international terrorism. Illegal drug trafficking is an international crime problem, and it is rarer that criminal enterprises limit themselves to a single illegal activity. Many criminal enterprises involved in narcotics distribution are also involved in the trafficking of humans and weapons. Furthermore, much of America's narcotic supply comes from Afghanistan, where its production and distribution can provide revenue for terrorist organizations. "The specific dynamics of the linkage between narcotics and conflict remain poorly understood. Evolving theory on the link between organized crime and terrorism enhances and supplements the debate on economic incentives in civil war, proposing mechanisms whereby insurgent groups interact with narcotics production -- a crime -- rebellion nexus" (Cornell, 2007). This nexus is not yet fully understood and there is some disagreement about whether existing drug cultivation helps create terrorist conditions or whether terrorist consciously choose to cultivate drugs as a source of funding. However, "studies of nine major narcotics-producing areas indicate strong support for this nexus. Rather than generating or being generated by drug cultivation, armed conflict qualitatively and quantitatively transforms existing drug cultivation. Importantly, armed conflict is itself deeply affected by the narcotics industry, which tends to strengthen the capacity of insurgent movements while weakening that of the state" (Cornell, 2007). An excellent example of this phenomenon is modern day Mexico, where an out-of-control drug culture has rendered the state virtually powerless within a matter of just a few decades. This has created a de-facto state of war in Mexico, which spills over into the United States on a regular basis. "A momentous aspect of the crime -- rebellion nexus is the effect that the drug industry tends to have on the motivational structures of insurgent groups: criminal involvement in some instances creates an economic function of war and vested interests in the continuation of armed conflict. This has substantial implications for strategies to resolve armed conflict involving the production and trafficking of illicit drugs" (Cornell, 2007).
The fact that narcotics trafficking is linked to terrorism gives the United States some interesting tools for fighting narcotics distribution. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, 20 Stat. L., 145, 10 U.S.C.S. 375 § 15 generally prohibits the United States government from employing any part of the Army to enforce the civil laws of the United States. However, while that law would prevent the deployment of troops at the local level in response to a purely civilian law enforcement matter, it does not prevent the federal government from authorizing the use of military forces to battle threats against homeland security, including narcotics trafficking. The federal government has done so. In 1981 and in 1988, the federal government passed specific drug-related exceptions to the Posse Comitatus act. "The new exceptions allow broad military assistance for the drug war. Soldiers may assist drug law enforcement agencies in surveillance and similar activities, although soldiers are still not supposed to confront civilians directly. Military equipment may be loaned to law enforcement agencies, and the military may train law enforcement agencies. The equipment and training may be for any purpose. If the purpose is drug enforcement, then the equipment and training are free; if not for drug war purposes, the civilian agency must merely reimburse the military for the training and the equipment" (Kopel, 2011).
Narcotics are characterized by law as substances that either arouse or inhibits human senses, and that generally are addictive if used frequently. The global drug operation is estimated to produce $300 billion to $400 billion every year. The directive of narcotics falls into two categories. Legal narcotics are controlled by the FDA and are usually obtainable just with a doctor's prescription (Carls, 1983). The manufacture, possession, and vending of unlawful narcotics generally called controlled substances are prohibited by law and liable to punishment. Narcotics distribution, manufacturing, and abuse are a significant social problem in the United States, and solving it will require a multi-faceted approach.
However, what is important to keep in mind is that narcotics are not simply a legal problem, they are a social problem. Moreover, they are a very complex social problem, and the current approach to solving the problem has been an overwhelming failure. "Long before launching the global "war on terror," the United States launched what it called the "war on drugs," a law enforcement and crime control effort targeting its own people. Ostensibly color-blind, the U.S. drug war has been and continues to be overwhelmingly waged against black Americans" (Gorvin, 2008). This does not mean that intentional racism is behind the disproportionate impact of the modern anti-drug efforts. "Defenders of the current anti-drug efforts claim they want to protect poor minority communities from addiction as well as the disorder, nuisance, and violence that can accompany drug dealing" (Gorvin, 2008). There is certainly no argument against the fact that drug usage can destroy homes and communities. However, that does not mean that current intervention strategies are effective. "The choice of imprisonment as the primary anti-drug strategy" has had a devastating impact on poor communities, particularly African-Americans, and has probably exacerbated the underlying issues in the community, making community members more vulnerable to addiction (Gorvin, 2008). What is clear is that solving the narcotics problem in the United States is not going to be accomplished simply by putting more criminals in jail.
Cornell, S. (2007). Narcotics and armed conflict: Interactions and implications. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 30(3), 207-227.
Gorvin, I. (2008, May). Targeting blacks: drug law enforcement and race in the United States.
New York: Human Rights Watch Organization.
Hartney, E. (2012, February 6). How to prevent addiction in your kids. Retrieved February 22,
2012 from About.com website: http://addictions.about.com/od/familyrelationships/tp/parent_discipline.htm
Kopel, D. (2011). Militarized law enforcement: The drug war's deadly fruit. Retrieved February 22, 2012 from DaveKopel.com website: