Drug trafficking as defined by the UNODOC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) refers to the illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture and sale or distribution of drugs in contravention of the law prohibiting the handling of drugs. This vice has been in operation for quite a whole now. This saw Clinton’s drug czar Barry McCaffrey retort that drug trafficking has been in place from as far as 1996 (Suddath, 2009). The truth is that drug trafficking has been a global issue for over 40 years. The war on drug trafficking was instituted in an early stage. Mora (1996) notes that it is by the 1970s the US government had not put more pressures into fighting the drug trafficking menace. It was in the 1977 that the Reagan administration started giving thought to the potential harm caused by drug intake. There were concerns over the increased consumption of heroin in the US, thus prompting the government to put it under consideration drug trafficking continued to be a real menace especially in the Brazil, Latin America and the Mexican republic. Despite the fact that all these countries had noted the problem, there was no political will in trying to harness the on resources to fight the war (Suddath, 2009). Therefore the countries continued losing money because of the direct influence of the drug trafficking.
Since the mid-1980s Brazil and the southern corn have played an important role in the drug trafficking cycles in the world. Mora (1996) argues that one of the reasons for the role and position played by the Brazil country in this trafficking was perhaps the traditional role of transshipment where small amounts of cocaine and heroin produced from the Andean region passed through to the U.S.A and the European markets. The governments from this region denied the existence of such dealings for a long time. However in 1989, evidence arose that the region had been used by the Bolivian drug lords in trafficking large amounts of drugs to the U.S and other European markets, thus raising the conscience of the US government. The increased competition of cocaine and heroin market in the U.S was to see trafficking efforts geared toward Europe where the market was fetching good cash. This therefore saw a change in the marketing and selling positions by the drug traffickers. For instance, Mora (1996) points out that the markets fetched almost twice as much as compared to the markets in America. This saw increased efforts in search of the drugs prompting markets to Southeast Asia and the western block. The drugs therefore got wind of the market trends leading into a global crisis. The US government having officially acknowledged the problem of the drug trafficking started vicious fight of drug trafficking and placed tough economic sanctions for countries contravening the federal laws on drug trafficking. Since then it has spent vast financial resources fighting the vice. For instance the US is estimated to have spent over $2.5 trillion dollars fighting drug wars. Despite the much hyped attention, sensitization, ads and publications the drug trafficking menace has been in continued trend.
Most drug handling has been reported to be taking place in the Asian countries, especially Afghanistan and the Arab world (McCaffrey, 1997) However world statistics indicate that Myanmar is the leading state where coca and opium are cultivated. Although world statistics indicate that the planting field in the country increased by a small margin lately, the rate of production has continued to increase. The market trends of the drugs mainly consumed as heroin, cocaine and opium have been affected. This has been majorly influenced by the tough laws that have been adopted by countries worldwide. The Northern American continent is the best ranked in terms of fighting the drug menace (McCaffrey, 1997). This region has overseen a large extent dwindle in the market of drugs in the area. Large drugs trafficking also occur in the republics of Iran and the neighboring Afghanistan. Swanson (2006) claims that almost over 15% of the drugs planted and manufactured in the Myanmar region are consumed in the Arab world. The rest of the drugs are exported to the European market. While the vast majority of the drugs find their way into the US market, a goes substantive amount is seized at the cross border checks.
Drugs that originate from the Latin America have also placed the US as the main consumer of drugs in the region (Swanson, 2006). Heroin is also produced in Colombia with purity of up 90% as compared to the heroin produced Southwest Asia (Dolin, 2001). The heroin in the US is figured to contain high market value because of its purity thereby putting more demand from the drug lords. The ‘black tar’ or the mainly originating from Mexico has also been one on an increased trend. The substance has found its way into the US market and continues to spread across most states. Of interest to note is the fact that most of this drug trafficking is done under cover, and in highly secretive ways.
Drug trafficking in Africa has also not been concrete in terms of place of origin. While most of the drugs in Africa have been found to originate in the DRC and central African republics, the northern fringe and east Africa have increasingly recorded high volumes of drug trafficking in the past five years (Dolin, 2001). The drugs in the area however have been found to originate from the Asian countries through India and gaining access to the West African and east African markets. While drug seizures indicate that most of the routes have been active in the transport and trafficking of illicit drugs, it very hard to tell of predict to what extent the routes have been utilized. This therefore has made the drug trafficking combat efforts less successful as the members continue changing the routes and modes of packaging.
While laws on drug trafficking are severe and the penalties almost unbearable, the drug menace has not for a long time been jittered to cease. Addiction and high street value have had an effect in influencing the illegal trades (Alvarez-Jiménez, 2011). The laws on the crime of illegal drug trafficking are very strict with some extending jail terms of over 10 years and equal seize of the proceeds or assets acquired through the illegal involvement. The governments seize and denial of travel warrant to individuals to other destinations form part of the severity with which the offense is punished (Swanson, 2006). The penalties and jail terms differ from country to country. However the drug laws in some countries and less definitive of the range of drugs they include in the illegal group (Freskos, 2011). Countries like Uganda and part of Jamaican islands do not consider cannabis sativa, commonly known as marijuana as an illegal hard drug. This therefore makes it hard for the efforts of fighting drug trafficking in the countries involved.
Indulgence in drug trafficking therefore has consequences in one’s life. Alvarez-Jiménez (2011) notes that most drug traffickers risk their lives since some of them are caught in live exchange of fire with police. The engagement of the drug traffickers in police street fighting and pursuit puts their lives in danger. They risk being shot under resistance to arrests. The prosecution of the traffickers also leads to lose of property generally presumed to have been acquired through drug trafficking. This therefore put their families and lives at stake. Most drug lords who have been prosecuted and found guilty suffer from depression and trauma (ODCCP, 1999). This is a consequence that has its own repercussions. In this regard Alvarez-Jiménez (2011) notes that most of the victims prefer suicide or fighting back in resistance to the measures adopted to curb their illicit acts. This therefore forms the point of confrontation between the governments and their local channels.
In most cases these cases, may go unnoticed through bribes or repatriation actions adopted by the members. This therefore forms a hard channel for fighting the crimes. The bribes are normally in large quantities of money. ODCCP (1999) observe that this makes it hard for the anti-narcotic police who is poorly remunerated to turn down the offer.
Drug trafficking has also an addictive effect on the members involved. While not all drug traffickers are users of the drug, most of the members have in one way been involved in the consumption of the drugs (Alvarez-Jiménez, 2011). Drugs being trafficked by most of the offenders are hard drugs, and apart from risking being prosecuted and brought to justice there are health implications that is hard to ignore.
Schizophrenic seizures and other effects such as hallucinations may set in. Health complications as a result of continued use may also affect the members involved. Addiction is the most serious effects of all the effects. Casey (2010) argues that the drug trafficking menace has been on an increased trend due to high addictive levels of cocaine and heroin. These drugs are very expensive and sometimes addicts go larger extents of even stealing in order to get money for purchase of the drugs (Deschenaux, 2011).
The use of drugs through different methods by people has also had a negative influence on the countries receiving the drugs. Casey (2010) observes that drug trafficking has led to many atrocities and increased violence in the countries of Ecuador and Mexico. For instance Ecuador has received over 300,000 refugees escaping from the drug cartels and drug fighting for control over the trade routes in the different countries. Mexico has recently faced humanitarian crisis through increased violence and killings related to drug use and trafficking.
The societies are therefore affected as the moral fabrics are deterred from development. The generational handover in use of drugs has led to a weaker social standing as compared to the rest of the world where the drug menace are highly fought. Social and economic problems as caused by the same drug trafficking have a negative influence in the economic standing of a country (UNODOC, 2012). Drugs that pass through Colombia through Ecuador and other parts of South America have created social and economic problems in the country.
Mexican world report adopted by the federal bureau of investigation (FBI) rated the named the murder and violent crimes in Mexico to have been drug related Casey (2010). Violent crimes continue to rock most countries, with more prevalence being observed in those countries with high records of drug trafficking.
The prosecution of members caught breaking the law can take different directions. The most recognized and common way of prosecuting members caught breaking the drug trafficking and control act will be prosecuted through the legal judicial procedures. Members who are arraigned in court by direct presence will normally be given a chance to defend themselves against the accusations put forward by the party that is advancing prosecution reports. The practice of impartiality and fairness in the defense will be paid attention to. Therefore there will be a legal team put in place by the defendant of the crime being charged at the accused. His or her or her legal team will then question the validity or defend the accusation by providing the relevant proof that the accused did not commit the crime as instigated by the prosecution team. This will normally take place like any other case in the judicial courts.
The treatment of drug traffickers with partiality is normally not advanced in any US court or any internationally legally bounding court systems. Therefore the sole principle of innocent until proven guilty will normally uphold to their treatment. Upon proof the members convicted of the crimes will then face the criminal law and penalties as judged by the judges in sitting. If the, members lose the battle and still feel that the process was marred by unfairness and aligned inclinations, they are free to seek an appeal in the appellate or courts of appeal.
This really depends on the court system of the country in operation. Acceptance or rejection will therefore be decided upon by the court in place. If the court decides that the reasons of seeking the appeal are unjustifiable the offender will then be subjected to the penalty. In this case, the penalty can be serving a specified period of jail period or even seize of their property and ban on international travel for a period of time. Once again as Dolin (2001) notes the severity of penalty of the offense will depend on the judicial implications and punitive extent adopted by the country in operation.
While some countries have strict laws on drug trafficking offenses with tough consequences, some have moderate severity in the punishment. However the case adopted and the judicial process of ensuring one of judicial justice is equally followed globally.
The UK and US law on drug trafficking is stricter as compared to the law adopted by the Mexican republican laws (Deschenaux, 2011). The law on drug trafficking in the United States of America attracts more punitive measures than in any of the two countries. The law in the country has been in a constant change with almost every change in the sitting president. During the time of Reagan, the Congress signed a charter establishing a post of a White House drug policy adviser. This saw the incorporation of tough measures against drug traffickers who faced punitive measures adopted by the incumbent government. The country’s foreign policy on the use of drugs and drug trafficking has since changed. For instance Casey (2010) observes that the economic implications that the country has undergone in fighting the vice is rising at an alarming rate. The country spends over 2.5 trillion dollars in fighting the crime annually (UNODOC, 2012). This puts the foreign policy stricter in terms of the penalties. For instance if one is convicted of having a one kilogram of heroin in the US he risks being sentenced to not less than 10 years or life imprisonment. The same drug cartel would face a fine of over 10 million US dollars from the same drug.
Compared to the UK, the same person would face 7 years and below or fines of low cadre. Even more complicated in the UK, the drug laws are covered by others where some laws hinder the operation of the punitive laws (Dolin, 2001). For instance heroin is easily accessed through medical prescription where most cartels involved in the trafficking may hide under the protective laws. While the same applies to the Mexican and the American case in allowing patients access the drug due to it medicinal effects, the use in the country has often been found to involve unwarranted dealings.
The Mexican law like the UK and American cases prohibit drug trafficking and sell to minors or underage children. The same drug laws are prohibited near schools or institutions of learning. The Mexican country law is quite relaxed as compared to the three countries. While it is very easy for one to face legal sanction over the same offense committed in the United States, the same culprit may face no or little conviction for the same offense. Casey (2010) argues that the continued human crisis being experienced in the Mexican country is as a result of the law hold and affiliation to the lesser punitive measures associated with breach of laws in the country. Mexico allows small-scale use of drugs especially heroin and cocaine. These drugs are defined in the US as having a high potential addictive effect and therefore affecting the population negatively due to the greater chances of misuse (Dolin, 2001). The drugs are therefore not allowed in human use, especially if the people handling them are not permitted by a court of law or direct permission from doctors (and under this case it is purely for health reasons).
The Mexican country defines severity of the penalty faced by the persons caught with the drug according to the amount and nature of transactions adopted by the people caught breaking the law. This is the same procedures followed in administering criminal justice in the three countries. What differs is the nature and severity in the penalties faced under the different laws of the countries under discussion.
The drug trafficking menace continues to be a worldwide problem that if measures are not taken will continue to shake the fabrics of society. Efforts adopted by countries have had a significant effect in combating the problem but there needs to a more spirited approach in harnessing resources and sensitization of the youth and the public on the detrimental consequences of drugs. Education and training on the possible ways of avoiding drugs should be put in place. Health facilities and rehabilitation centers should be boosted in training and by offering financial support so as to effectively deal with the problem of drug addiction and advising the public on drugs. Efforts for restitution of the nature of drug use will be only be effective if a multifaceted approach of control is adopted.
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