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Drug TraffickingJacob FritchPoint Park UniversityOrganized crime is a series of criminal activities that are planned by a group of people and are often done for a profit. Transnational crimes are crimes that take place across international borders. The combination of these two types of crime, transnational organized crime, has become a bigger problem in recent years due to globalization. According to Jay Albanese, globalization began with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Soviet Union (Albanese, Pg. 1). Globalization has helped lead to the rise of the internet, improvements in communication, as well as more efficient and travel. All of this has led to fewer international barriers. The breakdown of international barriers has helped the world in many ways but at the same time, we also saw an increase in transnational organized crime. Not only could people now move across international borders with ease, but money and illicit goods could too. Globalization has played an important role in the growth of transnational organized crime. In the past, those who were involved in organized crime may have only been able to control small territories wherever they may be located. Now that the internet has grown and transportation more efficient, it is easier for cartels, the mafia, and other organized crime groups to establish contacts around the world and expand into other countries. There are generally three categories of transnational crime. They are the provision of illicit goods, provision of illicit services, and the infiltration of business or government. One major group that is involved in transnational organized crime are drug cartels. Drug cartels are a criminal organization that is involved in the creation or distribution of narcotics. Cartels are almost never just one crime group. More often than not they are made up of several smaller drug enterprises who have decided to cooperate with each other (Lyman & Potter, 247). Drug cartels in many cases can be categorized as transnational organized crime groups. There are two reasons for this. The first is that they are involved in all three categories of transnational crime.  The second reason is that their criminal activities cross international borders. Around the world drug cartels have become a major issue. Along with being involved in the drug trade, cartels are often linked to various other crimes as well. Some these include murder, extortion, human trafficking, firearms trafficking, kidnapping, and many others. These crimes that come along with the drug trade can often be attributed to competition for certain markets, disputes between rival gangs and cartels. In today’s society, some terror groups have begun resorting to the international drug trade as a source of income. You can see this in countries such as Afghanistan where poppy plants are grown for the production of opiates and opium production is controlled by the Taliban. When thinking of drug cartels and drug trafficking people often think of areas such as Mexico, Central America, and South America who have cartels that are involved with cocaine production. However, it is not limited to these areas. Criminal organizations from around the world take part in the international drug trade. In Afghanistan you have the Taliban controlling opium production, in Japan the Yakuza controls the drug market, and Africa has many militant groups controlling the sale of various drugs. Here in the United States, larger cities such as Chicago or New York have crime families or the mafia that may control the flow of drugs in the city. While gangs and other crime groups within the United States may control drugs in the city, they have to get it from somewhere. This is where the problem of drug trafficking arises. For the sale and supply of their drugs, they may have to rely on a system of trafficking into and out of the United States. Since the end of the cold war, drug trafficking has posed a threat to international security. Previously, studies and lawmakers focused mostly on the use of drugs and its negative effects on people.  Eventually, drug use began to viewed as a threat to the morality of the state. As the threat to the social fabric of the state began to rise, military and intelligence operations were used to seize drugs before they were able to hit the open market. In response to this, cartels started to use what is known as narco-terrorism, which is terrorism that is associated with the drug trade. Probably the most famous cartels to do this is the Medellin Cartel that was led by Pablo Escobar. Narco-terrorism only added to the threat of drug trafficking (Kan, 3). Narco-terrorism wasn’t the only concern. Recently terrorist organizations have begun to get involved in the illicit drug trade as a source to fund their activities. In Afghanistan, the Taliban had a stranglehold on poppy production. Poppy plants are used in the production of opium which is then used to make opiates. The Taliban used this industry for profit by placing taxes on the opium trade. While the opium trade wasn’t illegal, they would sell it to those who would produce drugs from the opium (Peters, 74-77). The threat of drug trafficking and its connection to terrorism has even been recognized by the United Nations Security Council. At a conference in Istanbul Turkey, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime senior terrorism prevention officer Irka Kuleshnyk said “while it is difficult to establish how widely terrorist groups are involved in the illicit drug trade, or the breadth and nature of cooperation between these two criminal groups, the magnitude of the numbers involved make the relationship worrisome (UNODC, 2017).” More recently ISIS has been found to be involved in the drug trade. They seized control of most of the drug trade in the Middle East and other parts of Asia. Last year 11 million amphetamine pills given to ISIS fighters were seized at the Syrian border (Khan, 2017). Another example of the drug trades connection to terrorism can be seen with the 2004 Madrid train bombings. The small groups of terrorists who carried out the attacks used money from drug sales to fund their attack. To get the explosives for the attack they used drugs as a form of currency. They traveled to a mining region in northern Spain to exchange drugs for the dynamite used in the attacks. According to a USA Today article, “The bombers also used proceeds from drug sales to rent an apartment, buy a car and purchase cell phones used as detonators in the bombs (Guillen, 2004).”There are more similarities in tactics between Latin American cartels and terrorist groups. Their use of social media is probably one of the most recognizable similarities. The use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have allowed them to connect with people around the world. They will target those who are vulnerable and looking for some form of acceptance. Those that they target can often include children, women, and anyone looking for financial gain or religious gain for some terror groups (Khan, 2017).In an attempt to end the sale, production, and movement of narcotics many countries have in some way started a war on drugs. Two of the most prominent countries to do this have been the United States and Mexico. The fight against the drug trade is an international effort but there are many challenges faced every day. One of the most prominent challenges, especially in less developed countries is corruption. The corruption in government can come in a variety of ways. One way they influence lawmakers may be with money. Sometimes they may also resort to extortion or blackmail as a way to get laws that may have an effect on their operation turned down. People who are associated with the cartels may even run for public offices such as mayor. Their influence does not stop in government. Law enforcement agencies in some areas might side with cartels to protect them or just not acknowledge them at all. Over the years there has been cases where here in the where border patrol agents and police officers have been paid large amounts of money to look the other way when human traffickers, drug smugglers, and weapons traffickers cross the border. Part of the reason they may take this payoff is because they want the extra money. Another reason they may look the other way is because their safety or the safety of their family may be threatened if they don’t comply. This allows them to operate freely across international borders.  This can pose a safety risk to the United States because we might not know who or what is being brought into the country if border patrol agents are not doing their job properly. An issue that has also become more prominent over time is border porosity. This can be attributed to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which decreased inspections at the border and took away some existing regulations. Thousands of miles of coastlines have also been shown to provide an easy entry point into the country. With all of this coastline it is almost impossible to stop everything coming into the United States illegally (Lyman & Potter, 247). Almost every month we seem to hear about major drug rings being broken up or large shipments of money and drugs being seized at the border and at sea but this is only a small portion of what actually makes it in. One of the most imported drugs into the United States is cocaine. Three of largest coca-producing countries are Peru, Columbia, and Bolivia (Albanese, Pg. 14) These countries and others where cartels operate are often considered narco-states. Narco-states are countries that tend to let cartels and gangs to operate with little to no resistance.  In these countries the cartels have some form of control over government function and law enforcement because of extortion and corruption. The willingness to let cartels operate with little to no consequences can detrimental towards efforts to combat drug trafficking. The difficulty in combatting cartels can also increase when there is local support for them. Residents in areas where cartels are located may not have a choice when it comes to supporting cartels. There are poor regions throughout Latin America that rely on the cartels for vital resources. These areas may not be able to afford important commodities that include running water, electricity, a medicine. To gain local support they will provide vital infrastructure such as power, clean running water, hospitals, and schools. Since these may by the cartels, there is always the risk there will not be local cooperation when trying to investigate certain groups. Along with providing important resources to locals, the cartels can provide jobs in farming and financial opportunities. Farmers in regions where drugs are produced will choose to begin farming drug-related crops such as poppy or coca. There are two reasons for the switch. The first reason is that the production of drug-related crops have a tendency to be more profitable. The second reason is that the market for drug-related is also more stable. Prices and demand for other crops such as coffee, rice, and sugar cane fluctuate whereas the demand for drugs is more stable (Lyman & Potter, 247) A combination of all of these factors can lead to a difficult situation when trying to fight against drug cartels. As I have discussed, there are many factors that enable drug traffickers to operate easily around the world, but what is the best way to combat this? For some people, the solution to stopping the illegal drug trade and cartels is to legalize the use of and regulate drugs. The general belief is that it would help decrease crime overall since a vast majority of arrests are for drug-related crimes. Crime rates may drop because there wouldn’t be the competition at the street level among gangs. This would not only all but eliminate the illegal drug market but may also reduce homicides related to drug trafficking. Other possible arguments are that a regulated drug market would reduce the number of deaths from drug use by regulating the production much like alcohol or tobacco. While many make the argument the legalization would help, I do not see it as the best solution.  I feel that the best way would be to reduce the demand for narcotics. The best way to do this is to reduce the number of users. To reduce the number of people who use drugs you would need to use education and rehabilitation. Another potential method that could help is disruption of local drug markets. This can be done by passing legislation that requires the property owner to be held responsible for activity on their property. This would eventually force landlords to evict those who are responsible for the criminal activity because they could be fined in increasing amounts (Albanese, 22) To see an example of how legalization could hurt a cartel, let’s look at the legalization a marijuana here in the United States. In the state of Colorado marijuana was made legal. You could now legally grow and sell marijuana. In the year following its legalization, there was about $700 million in cannabis sales (Wainright, 217). Legalizing it nationwide would deal a huge financial blow to the cartels who primarily deal in marijuana production. Since it is legal in Colorado, there are more resources available to those who produce and sell it. They are able to grow in larger quantities outdoors or in a large warehouse, whereas cartels are limited to smaller grow operations so that they are able to better hide their activity. This hinders their production, therefore hurts their profit (Wainright, 217). This solution can work as a short-term fix but it probably wouldn’t be effective as a long-term since it would only displace the criminal activity. I feel that the best way is to work with poorer nations who tend to be a safe haven for cartels to improve the country’s infrastructure. By doing this you are helping to build roads, running water, homes, hospitals, schools, and other things vital to a developed nation. This would help governments regain the support of its citizens at the local level and lessen their reliance on the cartel for important resources. While it may be possible this would be a difficult approach since many local governments in a narco-state are controlled by those with connections to the cartels. Cartels, drug trafficking, and terrorist’s links to the drug trade have been an issue that has been going on for a long time now. Ongoing efforts to combat them have put a dent in the illegal drug trade but as soon as one group is eliminated another one is sure to arise in its place. It is, for this reason, it is important to continuously adapt to new technologies and tactics to keep us one step ahead of the illegal drug trade. It may be all but impossible to eliminate the drug trade but we can continue to fight against and try to minimize the impact it brings to the world. Works CitedAlbanese, Jay S. Transnational Crime and the 21st Century: Criminal Enterprise, Corruption, and Opportunity. New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 2011.Guillen , J.J. USA Today. 14 Apr. 2004, Accessed 25 Nov. 2017.Kan, Paul Rexton. Drug Trafficking and International Security . Lanham , Maryland , Rowman & Littlefield , 2016.Khan, Hiba. Isis and Al-Qaeda Are Little More than Glorified Drug Cartels, and Their Motivation Is Money Not Religion. 16 Apr. 2017, Accessed 24 Nov. 2017.Lyman, Michael D., and Gary W. Potter. Organized Crime. 6th ed., Upper Saddle River, NJ, NJ, Prentice Hall, 2015.Peters, Gretchen. Seeds of Terror: How Heroin Is Bankrolling the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Richmond, Oneworld, 2010.UNODC. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 2017, Accessed 24 Nov. 2017.Wainwright, Tom. Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel. London, Ebury Press, 2017.

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