Drug Trafficking in the US


The term drug trafficking refers to the trade of prohibited drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, cannabis sativa and opium among others. Drug trafficking is considered illegal, because the trading is done without the permission of the authorities. On a global scale, drug trafficking is highly prohibited and is considered a sophisticated crime, because of the logistics involved. Ojeda (2002) argues that, drug trafficking is a multistage activity, which involves the cultivation, producing, allocation and control of markets. Moreover, drug trafficking is a highly lucrative business that operates in voluminous amounts of profits.

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In the United States, drug trafficking is regarded as a highly emotive issue, and the government has devoted billions of dollars to fight the cartels. Therefore, many successive governments have devoted a lot of time, energy and resources to curb the crime through the formulation of international standards. Historically, the United States have been dominated by Mexican and Colombian drug cartels that sell, buy and distribute drugs.

From as early as the 1990s, the Colombian drug lords were considered the largest exporters of drugs in the U.S. It is assumed that most of the drug lords have highly placed connections within and outside the state, hence making it easy to evade police checks and distribute drugs. Consequently, the U.S. government has continually tripled its efforts to cut down on the loopholes of drug cartels. Current essay discusses the problem of drug trafficking in the U.S. and the measures put in place to deal with the illicit trade.

For a long time now, organized Mexican drug traffickers have been the greatest threat to Americas security. A report released by the American National Drug Intelligence Center in 2009 revealed that Mexicans drug traffickers were the most sought after by American detectives (Ojeda, 2002). Drug trafficking is a lucrative business in Mexico, and once they enter America, they recruit native citizens to propagate their trade. This has negatively affected the society, especially the young people who have abandoned schooling and engaged in smoking and selling drugs. Besides, most Mexicans in American jails are convicted of drug smuggling cases. Consequently, the proposal to construct the Great Wall was highly welcomed to ensure that America became a safer environment to live in. This was meant to reduce the escalating cases of drug trafficking and curb the resultant effects.

An analysis of the recent research studies indicates that the size of illegal trade in drugs has tremendously blossomed. According to Bagley and Walker (2004), the illegal drug market in the U.S. fetches around $450-500 billion annually, thus making it an extremely lucrative business. The prices on the black market and the dispensaries are virtually the same, but much cheaper on the street. Most drug users have developed a liking of buying cocaine and heroin from the streets because they are cheaper. Furthermore, illegal drug producers are making millions of profits on the streets, especially on marijuana and cocaine, which are always high in demand among young adults.

Researchers have found that most of the drug money is often spent on luxury products. In most of the arrests, police have reported numerous cases of drug peddlers living millionaire lifestyles. For instance, drug traffickers are often spotted wearing expensive jewelry, driving luxury cars and going on expensive vacations without any strain. Quite often, the FBI tracks the bank accounts of people with unquestionable sources of money, resulting from extremely expensive transactions. Reports show that in nine out of ten cases, people with dubious sources of money end up being connected to the underworld of drug trafficking.

The negative impacts of drug trafficking are severe and hazardous to the American society. In the United States, reports of the National institute on Drug Abuse show that the use of drugs raises the health costs by $15 billion annually (Bagley & Walker, 2004). This is related to the fact that most of the narcotic users require the input of multiple doctors, thus insurance costs to approximately $15,000 annually per user. Besides, the use of drugs often makes individuals prone to incurable diseases such as HIV, herpes, cancer, and diabetes among others.

Research studies have shown that the primary route through which drugs enter the United States is via the U.S. and Mexico border. According to Fukumi (2008), over 75% of all cocaine that enters the U.S. comes from the Southwestern U.S. border, and the major suppliers are Colombia drug gangs and lords. Furthermore, once drugs enter the U.S., Columbians in the major cities such as New York, Miami, Boston and Philadelphia take control under its distribution. On the other hand, the Mexican drug cartels control the cities of Las Vegas, San Francisco, Phoenix and Los Angeles. Therefore, it is quite evident that each drug cartel controls their territory.

The war on drugs is becoming a challenge for the state. In addition to the cheap availability of drugs, the cost of drugs has drastically reduced over the past 25 years, thus making the infiltration much easier (Fukumi, 2008). What is more, the price of drugs in the U.S. greatly varies with location. Moreover, drugs tend to attract higher prices in areas, which are prone to criminal activities and drug smuggling. For example, a grain of heroin costs $30 in Philadelphia, while the same amount costs up to $100 in Seattle, thus indicating the level and the prevalence of crime statistics.

Another intriguing aspect of the drug business revolves around the periods of circulation. A research survey conducted by the FBI in the major prone drug smuggling cities indicates that, during the winter or cold periods, the need for drugs, especially cocaine is on the higher scale. Most of the police on patrol have on many occasions found groups of young people who pretend to be smoking cigarettes, while it is opium or cocaine. During the winter, the prices of hard drugs steadily escalate owing to the high demand from consumers.

In the United States, minors are the most affected category of people with drug related problems. In 2005, the Drug Use and Health National Survey indicated that one million teenagers were involved in drug trafficking issues (Fukumi, 2008). Most of these teenagers were actively engaged or being used by drug lords in the distribution of drugs from one point to another. Additionally, the National Bureau of Statistics reported that over 30% of college students trafficked drugs in school among their peers. Since 1975, the U.S. National Surveys have shown an increase in the number of people engaging in drug trafficking issues. For example, in 2006, the survey on youth behavior and drug abuse indicated that over 85% of high school seniors found it extremely easy to obtain marijuana, owing to high supply chain outlets in various cities (Olivero & Murataya, 2013).

How the U.S Government Controls Drug Trafficking

In an attempt to control the soaring levels of drug trafficking activities in the country, the Federal government had legislated several authorized agencies to apprehend criminals. The most significant and notable agencies include the U.S. Customs Service Drug Enforcement Agency, Border Patrol, and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). Most of these agencies work in collaboration with the government committees to track down on the complicated drug cartel bodies. For example, in 2006 alone, the FBI was able to seize over 200,000 kilos of cocaine and 80,000 kilos of marijuana (Olivero & Murataya, 2013).

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) makes over 30,000 arrests annually in relation to sales and distribution of prohibited drugs. As a result, over 45% of inmates in most of the state prisons are often under the influence of drugs. Out of these, 35% are charged with possession, trafficking, distribution and production of harmful drugs (Nadelmann, 2005). Today, there are over 5,000 trained DEA trained and certified officers who are working on a full time basis in different divisions.


According to the FBI reports of 2012, the U.S. spends over $7 billion annually in fighting drug-related cases. All over across the American continent, approximately 800,000 are prosecuted annually for drug trafficking and related crimes. Despite the efforts by the U.S government to install measures to deal with drug trafficking, the Mexican and Colombian drug cartels continue to increase and become sophisticated. However, the fight against drug trafficking has been complicated, owing to the involvement of the agencies in the business, instead of wiping them out. For instance, numerous cases have been reported of law enforcement officers who have been interdicted following their involvement in drug trafficking.

Although, the fight against drug trafficking is far from being over, a lot has been achieved in addressing the drug menace. Today, the U.S. is collaborating with other countries and forming positive bilateral relations to develop policies of drug eradication. Through the various international forums, the fight against drugs has increased and positive progress has been witnessed.

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