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So what is with the war on drugs?

Photo by Randy Colas

From its experience with the Medellin Cartel’s sale of cocaine in cities like Miami and New York City to the introduction of crack in urban environments, the United States is no stranger to drug trafficking. The United States became world renown for its efforts during Ronald Reagan’s crackdown on narcotics and its involvement in patrolling famous cocaine transportation routes originating from South America. Given that United States citizens have a history of drug addiction— as seen with the present day opioid crisis— the nation has become an obvious target for drug producers abroad and within.

For this reason, cracking down on drug trafficking through border security, tougher legal sentences and advanced law enforcement presence in major hubs has remained a top priority for the nation. As the opioid epidemic continues, the United States will continue to try to cut off the supply of illicit drugs in order to decrease the chances of addiction and exposure to popular narcotics such as cocaine and heroin.

The United States has invested over $65 billion in combating drug trafficking since 1981, yet this along with anti-drug campaigns has not affected much change, as drug-related deaths have increased by 50 percent in the past decade. While the United States seized over 1,500,000 pounds of illicit drugs at its borders in 2015, the supply of narcotics continues to increase, making premium drugs like cocaine and heroin easier to purchase.

Seizures made by United States naval assets only account for 8 percent of total seizures, indicating a potential that many offshore drug transportation routes have not been found by law enforcement. However, this is not to say that drugs are not being transported through legal entry points, as drugs such as cocaine can often be concealed in passenger vehicles as items such as wine and carbonated beverages. Given these weak points in border security, it becomes easier for drug distribution couriers within the United States to transport kilograms of illicit substances between major hubs such as Philadelphia and New York City.

As a result, small city distributors can purchase large quantities of drugs from these cities and sell the product back home, thereby expanding the outreach of these imported goods. Given this information, it is imperative to increase law enforcement presence around ports and off the coast in order to cut off maritime drug trafficking.

The United States would also like to propose a greater relationship with Caribbean nations in patrolling the Atlantic by establishing a unified task force. With the cooperation of Caribbean governments, the United States can patrol a vast amount of waters in a mutually beneficial relationship to keep citizens safe from the horrors of illicit drugs. Moreover, funding for greater security technology at borders should be of the utmost importance, as drug traffickers have begun using methods that require advanced search techniques. Outdated X-ray technology at borders will simply not keep with savvy drug traffickers who know how to conceal their contraband.

However, while the United States continues to scrutinize its borders and interior for drug trafficking, it should still maintain the belief that all offenders will be granted due process and a fair trial. We are at a critical point in the war on drugs, but we must not forget the values that our nations has extolled since its inception. 

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