International Drug Trade


For my white paper I want to research and report on the international drug trade as it relates to the United States.   I have always been very interested in this topic as it is one that affects every single continent on earth and being that the United States is one of the wealthiest and more powerful countries it is important to understand their role in it and how that role needs to be changed to meet the government’s goals.

For decades the war on drugs has affected the international landscape in many ways.   In the government, politicians do not know what the best approach is.  Latin America has dominated the drug trade but it is not centrally focused at all.  Sure, Columbia is one of the biggest producers of cocaine and heroin in the world, but other countries are involved as well.   Drug production is spread throughout the world, from places like Afghanistan, to Jamaica, to Laos, to Guatemala.  The US Justice Department has estimated that cartels in Columbia and Mexico have revenues reaching between $18 billion and $39 billon dollars each year on drugs sales in the United States alone.  Cartels use intricate transportation methods in including corrupt border officials, underground tunnels, and cartel members becoming citizens and working from the inside.  Although cartels are not the only problem, something needs to be done to stop them from bringing down a part of American society.  It is believed that there is a system that is run by the cartels that is more intricate that Amazon or UPS or any major deliverer of goods.  This is the business side of the proposal for my White Paper.  The societal proposal will look at the health and security effects of the drug trade as they relate to inner city drug use and harsher laws against minimal users of drugs.  It will look at what policies and laws that the US government can enact that will proper target and charge each different group on the appropriate scale.

My audience for this paper will be mainly the major US drug entities in government including the DEA, the US Department, and the CIA/FBI.   It will also be governments of other countries, particularly Latin American countries.  Our relationships with those countries’ officials have been significantly strained by the war on drugs.

What are the questions that remain about the United States involvement?  What has the US government done or not done about the drug trafficking and drug use in the United States? Could legalization be a possible answer to some if not all of these drugs?  How would that affect the business world and how would crime associated with drug use be affected by a possible legalization?  When there are billions of dollars on the line in a business made up of hardened criminals, nobody can tread lightly and each decision is amplified and can/will have far reaching effects on an international level.

There are a lot of moving parts and issues when dealing with the United States and its role in the international drug trade.  In the scholarly article U.S. Drug Policy: A Bad Export,Ethan Nadelmann studies how legalization would effect all of it.  He explains that the effect of illegal drugs in a health sense pale in comparison to that of drugs and alcohol.  He also addresses the problem with the obsession of state officials to get a handle on drug use.  Prisons are overcrowded throughout the United States and instead of finding ways to improve that and solve those issues the states are implementing laws with minimums of 5 years for very minimal possession of licit drugs.  Nadelmann also speaks to the incredible effects that these laws and policies have on both sides of the drug trade.  He says there are unintended beneficiaries of drug laws. For instance Latin American economics have seen a huge unintended benefit from US drug policy as their economies have boomed.  Unfortunately that has effected regular farmers in those countries who do not partake in illegal operations.  This issue has effected border officials and regular police officials both in the US and in production countries.  The CIA has had scandals for years over.  Basically, my point is that I want to understand all of the moving parts of this issue and how the business, government, and societal components can all play into one another in order to find policies and initiative to improve the U.S. role.

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2 thoughts on “International Drug Trade

  1. “When there are billions of dollars on the line in a business made up of hardened criminals, nobody can tread lightly and each decision is amplified and can/will have far reaching effects on an international level.”

    Drug trade or financial sector? 😉

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