From the early 20th century, several countries have banned the possession and/or use of certain recreational drugs. Nevertheless, many people still continue using illegal drugs and a black market emerged in order to supply them. Despite the great efforts put by global law enforcers to stop this market, demand for illegal drugs continues to be high, hence, giving the criminals great profit motive to keep on supplying drugs.
There are about 50 million or more regular users of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and other illegal drugs worldwide, according to the United Nations. This illegal trade of drugs has been going on for decades now and has become a multi-billion dollar international business. Illegal trading of drugs has been globally widespread which involves the cultivation, production, supply, and selling of substances contrary to drug prohibition regulations and laws.
A lot of countries have grave penalties for drug smuggling. It can be beating, long period of imprisonment, and in Singapore, Malaysia, China, and other countries even death penalty. Trading of illegal drugs has been widely recognized to be the most severe drug offense all over the world. Punishment however often lies depending on the type and amount of drugs being trafficked, how and where they are distributed and sold.
The USA has one of the most prominent and biggest illegal drug markets in the whole world. Consequently, the most coldblooded, high-tech, and violent drug traffickers are involved there. The country’s agencies of drug law enforcement face immense challenges as they try to protect their vast borders. With 60 million people and more than 400 million tons entering the United States of America (According to the U.S. Customs Service) these illegal traffickers of drug conceal numerous drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine, and other dangerous drugs for supply in the neighborhoods of the U.S. The country remains to be the top consumer of Cocaine and Marijuana. Various criminal organizations distribute and traffic illegal drugs across the U.S. via diverse routes – from Mexico land routes, sea routes along the Mexican east and west coast and through air by means of international corridors.
Since the 1970’s, Mexican drug cartels and criminal groups smuggle marijuana and heroin via the border from the Southwest side and distribute them across the country. Additionally, these groups also distribute methamphetamine and cocaine in the Midwest and West. On the other hand, some West Europe-based drug groups, Israeli and Russian drug syndicates are the primary suppliers of the drug which is called methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) otherwise known in the streets as Ecstasy which is principally manufactured covertly in Western Europe. And in the past several years, the use of this illegal drug has increased across the country. MDMA is smuggled through the use of drug couriers flying commercial airlines and express package delivery carriers. Lastly, another drug syndicate based on Southwest and Southeast Asia smuggle the drug heroin, exploiting New York City as the biggest circulation yard and then spreading it through the seaboard from the east side to the Midwest.
Aside from international sources, some drugs are also domestically cultivated, produced, manufactured and distributed. These drugs include methamphetamine, marijuana, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and phencyclidine (PCP).
Marijuana is one of the most available and widely abused illegal drugs in the U.S. as well as in the world. It was estimated that 11.5 million people in the United States are currently hooked on this drug and marijuana has been used by a third of the entire U.S. population. Many consider this as the “key” to the illegal drug abuse world. With the people’s perception of the dangers of this substance being very light, its popularization with the help of media combined with the advocacy of groups towards legalization, influence the nationwide revival of this drug. The bulk of the supply of the drug comes from Latin American and Mexican sources. However, Mexican marijuana stays widely available in the black market. Meanwhile, according to the statistics of the Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program (DCE/SP), domestic marijuana has been surging through indoor growing especially in the states of California, Florida, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin and by means of outdoor growing particularly in the states of California, Hawaii and Tennessee. Commercial grade marijuana prices have been steady over the past decades. Canadian-grown marijuana known as BC Bud is sold in Vancouver for $1,500 to $2,000 per pound but in major metropolitan areas in the U.S. it is sold for between $5,000 and $8,000. Prices of a higher quality or more potent variety of marijuana known as sinsemilla range from $900 to $6,000 per pound. Southwestern United States commercial-grade marijuana prices range from $400 to $1,000 per pound and $700 to $2,000 per pound in the U.S. Midwest and Northeast. The drug trade obviously involves a lot of money which cycle to expand further the illicit affair in the United States.
The nation faces a difficult threat wherein the youth is continually involved in the use of marijuana. Figures state that one senior in three at high school has used marijuana over monthly use. The average first time use of marijuana in the US youth is about 17 years old – some even using the drug as early as 12 years old.
Another dangerous drug, Cocaine, persists looming the health and safety of Americans. Although not as rough and rampant compared to the times of the 1980’s, the violence attributed to the drug is still very high. The trafficking of the drug has spread from urban areas to smaller cities and to the suburbs which entails the increase of crimes committed in the area. Primarily, the border between the U.S. and Mexico is the main rally point of the drug. In almost every big city in the U.S., cocaine is available as well. The organized crime group based in Columbia is a leading controller and manufacturer of Cocaine Worldwide. Such organizations employ a strategic and complex infrastructure in order to transport cocaine through all possible routes – from land, air and sea. Through the use of network money laundering and front organizations dispersed in metropolitan areas performing individual tasks for the whole organization, the group remains strong amidst the efforts of drug enforcement agencies across the United States and all over the world. The key managers monitore the whole operation in Columbia. Over time, the Columbian-based drug organizations have permitted the increased role of Mexican drug cartels in the Cocaine trade in the United States. During the 1980’s, the Columbian criminals used drug smugglers from Mexico with the purpose to move Cocaine to the U.S. and then again to Columbian criminals. However, after a failed deal wherein almost twenty-one metric tonnes of cocaine was seized, the sphere and the role of the Mexico-based organizations of trafficking in the United States changed greatly. The new arrangement then gives almost a half of the total shipment to the Mexican traffickers as payment for their services which eliminated huge sums of cash the red flag gives out.
Another drug that is widely available in the United States is MDMA also known as Ecstasy, XTC, and Clarify. It is a mild hallucinogenic drug which also has psychoactive effects. During the 1990’s the drug became popular within the European youth. Only after a decade or more did the drug became increasingly popular in the United States. The drug is popular with the middle-class adolescents and young adults as it is primarily sold at legitimate bars and nightclubs and underground nightclubs. It is also viewed as non-addictive and benign which is why more and more people abuse the drug. The dosage of the illicit drug comes in tablets with weight 150 to 350 mg while containing 70 to 120 mg of MDMA. Profit in the drug is significant as the manufacturing cost can be cheap as 25 to 50 cents and being sold at as high as $40 in the street. Most of the MDMA supplied in the United States comes from Europe particularly from the Netherlands and some from Belgium.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is constantly investigating and monitoring the global illegal drug market in order to get a better understanding of their changing aspects. The illegal productions of these drugs are largely rooted in rural zones or areas which are difficult to monitor and in turn to control. The increasing world population also automatically aggravates the growing illegal drug trade since the demand for drugs is expected to increase with the rising population.
However, since the establishment of UNODC 50 years ago and the declaration of the “War against Drugs” of former United States President Richard Nixon, there is still little development in the world’s fight against illegal drugs.
Aside from the slight dip of heroin and cocaine users, the global problem still persists. According to Carsten Hyttel, East African representative of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the volume of the world’s illegal drug trade is so vast that it equals 0.9% of the global GDP which also means that it is greater than the GDP of 88% of all the countries all over the world. Almost 5% of the entire adult population of the world who used illicit drugs at least once a year equates to 200 million with 160 million of those marijuana users. This figure also strengthens the idea that the global drug trade will expand even more. Aside from the money, the illicit drug trade also claims the lives of almost 200,000 people annually due to various cases of violence, crimes, and drug overdose.
There have been different proposals on how to reduce and hopefully eliminate these illegal doings. The United States amongst other countries and organizations has expressed its views on drugs and has publicized the illegality of such drugs and has placed strong importance on battling this illicit drug trade. Other countries have also been vocal on their stand against drug problems and made such as a criminal matter. Extra law-enforcement expenditures and abundant prisons have been made for the criminals who are continuously taking part in these criminal trades. However, few countries such as the Netherlands have taken a different approach. Drug problems are seen merely as a health matter not a criminal one. In such an approach, several ‘soft’ drugs are partially decriminalized hence are not considered illegal.
However, many officials and examiners deemed that legalizing drugs would only increase their availability and the risk of troubles they bring. Such drugs are not dangerous for the reason that they are unlawful and illicit; these drugs are prohibited because they are unsafe and threatening. In our society today, some children are already addicted to using these illegal drugs while some are simply vulnerable to it. Another approach advocated to reduce these drug problems is simply through supply and demand. Government and organizations of different countries must height their advocacy by acquiring control from such criminals and handling the demand side by creating a safer and securer environment as an initial point in addressing these issues.