Posted: March 18th, 2023
Drug trafficking provides people with money and power. A lot of crimes are connected to drug trafficking. That is because the activity is often run by criminal organizations that make large profits from the selling of drugs and people. When criminals traffic drugs that frequently traffic humans as well. These people are often trafficked for sex, slave labor, and organs. When drug trafficking mixes with these kinds of crimes, national security can become a big problem. This is because some of these criminal organization could be terrorist in nature and may use the money gained from trafficking to promote and implement a terrorist agenda.
Drug trafficking in the United States frequently occurs in the border. However, there does exist trafficking through the use of drug mules. Human Sex trafficking a frequent pairing to drug trafficking is a serious violation of human rights, but also provides ability for those like drug traffickers with access to drug mules, additional avenues for money, and spare bodies. Almost every country has some network or organization that transports, captures, or delivers humans for trafficking. These points of entry, transfer, and delivery also provide the same benefits to those smuggling and selling drugs.
When countries serve as origin, transit, or destination points, they may give way to national security threats. Ukraine traffickers for example, enable all three giving traffickers ease for human and drug trafficking domestically and overseas. The guardian of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime or UNTOC, is UNODC, acting as the foundation for nations to establish procedures of prevention, punishment, and suppression of trafficking of drugs and people.
However, the efforts to thwart trafficking do not provide enough to stop it. Human trafficking involves complex and complicated processes meaning enlistment of employees and slaves in order to implement their strategies. It involves the transference and maintenance of captives, which often involve renting and buying properties. It include the handover/harboring or receiving of people through use of force, threat, or coercion. All of which requires planning and communication. These processes are so complex and efficiently run that few if any criminal organizations involved face charges.
Because of the manner in which trafficking occurs, law enforcement have difficult time spotting the criminal activities taking place as well as charging those that are caught. Legislature in numerous countries does not serve to help thwart trafficking activities. How can trafficking lead to terrorism and national security risks? Humans engross themselves in criminal activities everywhere. This is because they often need money and cannot make it legally.
They do the next best thing and involve themselves in the drug trade. The drug trade funds personal financial needs as well as helps some individuals create and maintain an organization. Sometimes these organizations have goals in mind to create problems on a grander scale. Aside from the effect drug and sex trafficking has on the general public, the money earned from such activities can and sometimes does fuel terrorist activity. “According to the UNODC’s World Drug Report 2007, the total potential value of Afghanistan’s 2006 opium harvest accruing to farmers, laboratory owners and Afghan traffickers reached about $US3.1 billion” (Unodc.org, 2015).
When sales of drugs brings in money to terrorist organizations like those seen in Afghanistan, those involved can and do expand it to other criminal activities like human trafficking, forced prostitution, and terrorist acts. Things need to be funded in order to become actualized. With drug use increasing in all parts of the world and solicitation for sex constant, there are many avenues for criminals to gain funds for other more sinister activities.
Since terrorism is often linked to criminal activities like trafficking, this may encourage the continued proliferation of drug trafficking and reach points where drug cartels take over areas like what is happening in Mexico. Mexican cartels have become so successful and powerful, they are expanding to other parts of the world in order to increase their revenues and influence.
The Mexican drug cartels are some of the most extensive and successful organized crime networks in history. They are sophisticated, trans global criminal enterprises that control access to illegal supply routes across the Western Hemisphere. There is growing evidence that their influence is expanding; the cartels are reportedly making inroads in Europe, Africa, Australia and South Asia. Mexico’s leading newspaper, El Universal, Mexico’s leading newspaper, reports that the cartels are now facilitating production and smuggling of Afghan heroin (Wyler, 2015).
Drug trafficking is and has been a lucrative way to make money. With the United States and Mexico constantly waging war to thwart the other side, violence has increased in Mexico and spilled over onto the United States in border areas. In fact, the United States fears the effects of Mexican drug cartels could expand onto American soil and lead to an increase in violence (Ivan, 2015). What is a problem seen in Mexico and border areas could very well become a problem in the United States. Kidnappings for example, are a way drug cartels make money and exercise their power. American citizens have been kidnapped and killed by drug cartels in order to gain ransom. These American citizens have typically been border patrol agents or people with access to money that could provide some benefit for the drug cartels. In conclusion, drug trafficking leads to other criminal activities, even terrorism. If not controlled, it may spill over to increased threats to national security.
2. The United States government is taking initiative in address coordinating counter-narcotics operations through the planning and implementation of new strategies. For example, federal enforcement initiatives have begun to incorporate the concept of coordination and collaboration between tribal, local, and state partners. That means objectives for increase federal funding in order to allow for extra training and communication efforts between agencies. The extra effort in communicating identifications and arrest of criminals and trafficking organizations can help reduce the excessive waste of resources that happens when law enforcement agencies do not communicate with each other and coordinate their efforts. As of 2012, coordinating efforts have reached a fairly high percentage. “For FY 2012, state and local enforcement agencies were participating in 4,719 out of 5,171 OCDETF investigations (91.3%)” (Executive Office of the President, 2013, p. 15).
Along with increased coordination and communication efforts, the federal government has devised protocols for improvement of information sharing and intelligence exchange. In 2011 alone, HIDTA-funded initiatives dismantled and disrupted 2,942 drug trafficking organizations by removing major quantities of drugs off the marker as well as seizing $728,753,436 in money plus $210,428,628 in non-cash assets. They were able to achieve this with highway enforcement programs and undercover/surveillance programs. The participants of such programs were not only able to identify potential suspicious activity, but also coordinate efforts for arrest and trials through analysts and on-duty personnel.
These efforts were especially useful in border areas like Phoenix, Arizona where trafficking happens often.
In regards to actions taken by the united States government in relation to other countries, the United States has actualized steps to address issues like drug trafficking in Mexico and South American countries like Bolivia. In Mexico for example, American efforts include introduction of drug addiction counselors to combat drug dependency in Mexico. “INL is supporting the work of the Organization of American States to establish a national-level counselor certification system for drug addiction counselors, aimed at improving the delivery of drug treatment services in Mexico” (State.gov, 2013, p. 20). Mexico has also remained active on their part to combat drug trafficking. In 2008, Mexico banned imports of pseudoephedrine, with the exception of hospital use of liquid pseudoephedrine. The country also banned ephedrine imports. Although the changes are not enough to provide satisfactory control of illegal substances, it does provide some level of regulation in Mexico.
Just as the United States has increased and improved their law enforcement agencies’ ability to identify and seize illegal drugs, Mexico has done the same. This is because despite legal controls, drug traffickers continually smuggle drug precursors into Mexico, leaving the Mexican government to increase seizures of such chemicals. “Through September 2012, the Government of Mexico reported seizures of over 349 metric tons (MT) of precursor chemicals. Operations in Michoacan and Queretaro accounted for 69% of all precursors seized in Mexico in 2012” (State.gov, 2013, p. 54). Mexico has increase seizures in other parts of the country as well. These areas are Chiapas and Veracruz, because they serve as transit points for the trafficking of precursor chemical shipments from and to other countries like Guatemala.
Unlike Mexico, Bolivia does not provide drug traffickers with a large supply of drug precursors. What it does supply however, is cocaine. Because Mexico provides drug precursors more so than Bolivia, U.S.-Bolivia efforts are different from U.S.-Mexico efforts. However, there are some similarities. For example, starting from 2011, GISUQ discovered drug traffickers utilizing new chemicals such as cement and isopropyl alcohol to produce cocaine. This suggests that like in Mexico where they are finding precursors for drugs like methamphetamine, in Bolivia, they are looking for efforts made by drug traffickers to get ingredients that enable drug creation. They also coordinate activities similarly seen in Mexico to enable higher rates of arrest and seizure by teaming up with Bolivian authorities like DGSC or Directorate General of Controlled Substances.
While the emphasis in Bolivia is mainly seizure of cocaine, the Bolivian government has been making efforts to coordinate with the Ministry of Health in order to interdict and supervise illegal commercialization of methamphetamine precursors. This is beneficial to the United States because methamphetamine use has increased in the country in the last few decades. The United States has attempted in the past to coordinate efforts with the Bolivian government to diminish cocaine trafficking; however, Bolivian authorities have failed to take much action.
The National Drug Control Council, headed by the Ministry of Government, remains as the central counternarcotic policymaking body within Bolivia. Although they have organizations like The Special Counternarcotics Police Force or FELCN, it does little to prevent the export and import of cocaine. The Joint Eradication Task Force for example has a main mission not of seizing and capture drug traffickers, (a major difference from Mexico), but of destroying coca plants, the source of cocaine. Bolivia’s ongoing coca eradication efforts fails to curb illegal cultivation and cocaine production remains high. The United States attempted ever since the 1970’s to provide support to drug source countries like Bolivia to combat drug trafficking, but it has remained largely ineffective due to the lack of action on Bolivia’s side (Seelke, Wyler & Beittel, 2010, p. 10). NSD-18 for example, directed the Secretary of Defense in redefining the Pentagon’s mission to contain counternarcotics as part of its core priorities. President Bush also sprung the “Andean Initiative” to strengthen counternarcotics support to Bolivia.
Executive Office of the President,. (2013). NATIONA L DRUG CONTROL STRATEGY. Retrieved 26 September 2015, from https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/federal_support_for_local_law_enforcement_equipment_acquisition.pdf
Ivan, K. (2015). Drug Cartel War as the Major Security Challenge in the U.S.-Mexican Relations: Centre for European and North Atlantic Affairs — Analysis. Cenaa.org. Retrieved 26 September 2015, from http://cenaa.org/analysis/drug-cartel-war-as-the-major-security-challenge-in-the-us-mexican-relations/
Seelke, C., Wyler, L., & Beittel, J. (2010). Latin America and the Caribbean: Illicit Drug Trafficking and U.S. Counterdrug Programs.
State.gov,. (2013). Volume I: Drug and Chemical Control. Retrieved 26 September 2015, from http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2015/vol1/
Unodc.org,. (2015). Drug trafficking and the financing of terrorism. Retrieved 25 September 2015, from https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/frontpage/drug-trafficking-and-the-financing-of-terrorism.html
Wyler, G. (2015). The Mexican Drug Cartels Are A National Security Issue.Business Insider. Retrieved 24 September 2015, from http://www.businessinsider.com/why-the-us-needs-to-stop-fighting-the-drug-war-and-start-fighting-the-cartels-2011-6
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