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  1. World Politics Review | Features
  2. Duterte's drug war in the Philippines is out of control, he needs to be stopped
  3. War on drugs
  4. Support breakthrough Ideas that keep you ahead of your competition

Colombian economist Eduardo Sarmiento Palacio, for example, argued that the U. War on Drugs led directly to the rise of Colombian drug cartels. There is further evidence that cartel-controlled operations are replacing domestic drug producers. According to the DEA, methamphetamine lab busts have fallen from almost 24, in to 11, in These cartels have helped fuel violence within both the United States and Mexico.

Since , more than 85, people in Mexico have been killed as a result of the drug trade. However, almost all heroin sold in the United States, regardless of its country of origin, is supplied by Mexican cartels.

It is estimated that Mexican traffickers operate in more than 1, U. One officer was sentenced to 12 years and 11 months in prison, while the other was sentenced to 9 years. One particularly insidious component of the War on Drugs is civil asset forfeiture. This policy allows police, prosecutors, and other law enforcement agencies to seize assets such as cash, cars, and homes used or thought to be used in commission of a drug crime.

In many cases, a portion of the confiscated assets flows to the budgets of the confiscating agency. The perverse incentives created by civil forfeiture are obvious. This makes corruption more profitable and more likely. In many cases, the payoffs can be large. However, the man was transporting cash needed to buy new property for the church. They had been planning to use the money to buy a car. State and local seizures have followed similar trends. Police Militarization and the War on Drugs The standard unintended consequences predicted by the economics of prohibition are not the only problems faced by the United States as a result of its drug policy.

In addition, the drug war has engendered racial tensions and substantial changes in a variety of political, social, and other institutions, particularly policing. The first drug prohibition laws were enforced by preexisting government agencies, specifically the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Federal agencies are not the exclusive enforcers of drug policy.

In fact, the enhanced weaponry and tactics so frequently seen as hallmarks of modern U. Historically, the United States has attempted, in theory if not in practice, to separate the functions of the police and the military. Military personnel, meanwhile, engage with external threats to the United States and its citizens. Domestic law enforcement, recognizing that linking their missions with the drug war could increase their discretionary budgets and number of personnel, would benefit from joining the operations.

Federal authorities would have additional personnel to fulfill their goals. The War on Drugs has created a domestic battle zone where U. The militarization of U. As noted above, those involved in any aspect of the drug market, interdiction included, are now more likely to encounter individuals with a comparative advantage in violence and face an increased frequency of violent actions. For police, this provides a strong incentive to adopt more forceful tactics.

Plus, the Act allowed DOD to transfer excess military equipment and other materials to domestic law enforcement for the purposes of combating illegal drugs. Other programs provided further opportunities for police to adopt military tactics and equipment in the name of combating drugs. This program, building on the MCLEA, authorized additional transfers of military equipment to state agencies to combat drugs.

In , Program subsumed and expanded upon Program This incarnation of the program allowed the DOD to transfer aircraft, armor, riot gear, surveillance equipment, and weapons to state agencies. The Program has channeled additional weapons and tactical gear to domestic police by providing state and local law enforcement with new military equipment. Once again, this program started with the goal of using domestic law enforcement to combat illegal drugs.

The use of these programs has expanded immensely since their creation. The program involves more the 17, agencies. The breakdown of the distinction between local and military forces is also evident in the programs offered by federal agencies such as the DEA and FBI. The DEA, for example, was a single bureau in the s. Now the agency works with more than state and local law enforcement agencies, providing specialized training in drug interdiction.

World Politics Review | Features

The agency also manages more than task forces throughout the country, which coordinate information and resource sharing among state, local, and federal agencies. The impact of these programs and relationships is not trivial. Equipment and tactics once exclusively used by military or federal agencies abroad are now commonly used by state and local law enforcement against civilians.

This style of raid, once used exclusively by the military, is now common practice by domestic law enforcement. Hundreds of botched no-knock raids have been documented throughout the country. In other cases, police officers have been injured executing the raids. Moreover, these raids are frequently conducted by Special Weapons and Tactics SWAT teams or Police Paramilitary Units PPUs , groups of domestic law enforcement personnel with specialized military equipment like that obtained through the and programs and training.

The number of no-knock raids has increased dramatically as a result of the War of Drugs and the War on Terror. Eighty percent of small-town police departments now have a SWAT team. Approximately 3, SWAT deployments occurred in By the early s, SWAT teams saw about 45, deployments a year. In the United States, it is well documented that these policies disproportionately impact minority communities, particularly blacks and Hispanics. Recent reports indicate that this may not be an accident. Regardless of the original intention, however, the effects of the drug war on minority groups are undeniable.

Black individuals, for example, make up only 12 percent of the U. Black men are sent to state prisons on drug charges at 13 times the rate of white men. SWAT raids are also much more likely to be carried out against minority groups. The ACLU found that nearly 50 percent of all SWAT raids between and were conducted against black and Hispanic individuals, while only 20 percent of raids involved white suspects the other 30 percent is unknown or other.

In Allentown, Pennsylvania, for example, Latinos are 29 times more likely to be targeted by a SWAT raid than whites, while blacks are 23 times more likely to be targeted than whites. Blacks in Ogden, Utah, are 39 times more likely to be subjected to a SWAT raid, and blacks in Burlington, North Carolina, are 47 times more likely to be targeted compared to whites. The overrepresentation of minorities in drug offenses and the criminal justice system has additional implications.

A single conviction for drug possession may render some students automatically ineligible for federal student aid, including grants, loans, or work-study. How long a student is ineligible depends on the type of offense, but some individuals may be permanently banned from federal education assistance.

Another 30, to 40, are denied student loans. A felony drug charge which, in some states, requires only three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana can also cause an individual to lose eligibility to work for the federal government; enlist in the U. Armed Forces; obtain an import, customs, or other license; or obtain a passport. Given the rate at which minorities are arrested for crime, this has immense implications for the long-term prosperity of both individuals and broader communities.

By combating illicit drugs abroad, the U. Moreover, by assisting foreign governments with drug interdiction, the U. International drug policy is not a new arena for the United States. In , the International Opium Commission, also known as the Shanghai Opium Commission, convened to discuss opium production in Asia. Successive administrations have continued this trend. In , the U. Prohibition is the motivation for all of these programs. As evidenced by the outcomes in the United States, one may rightfully expect these international policies to have led to a variety of unintended consequences.

These consequences are illustrated clearly in the ongoing U. The War on Drugs in Afghanistan The economics of prohibition is central to understanding the failed U. By neglecting the insights of economics, the U. Since the U. In fact, U. In exchange for assistance with fighting the Taliban, the U. Following this phase, the U. Barno, the top U. Thomas Schweich, the U. Afghanistan has seen a massive inflow of U.

Most of these funds were used to support joint Afghan and American anti-drug efforts.

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After reopening its Kabul office in , the DEA steadily expanded its presence from 13 to 95 offices. Despite military efforts and billions of dollars spent, the U. Counter-drug policies in Afghanistan have not curtailed the drug market domestically and have been counterproductive to other U. In fact, cultivation of opium poppy nearly tripled between and , from 76, hectares in to a record , hectares.

Cartelization and the Taliban The U. First, eradication efforts acted as a tax on opium producers by imposing additional costs such as fines, imprisonment, and even death. These higher costs tend to force out smaller producers, leaving larger producers to dominate the market. Second, local leaders have faced strong incentives to manipulate eradication efforts to target smaller producers. And by pursuing small producers, local leaders and other officials could show they were doing something to combat opium production. The result was that large producers thrived.

The driving force behind this integration was the entrepreneurial alertness of the Taliban. Seeing the chance for profit as a result of the national ban on drugs, the Taliban became a one-stop shop for all the needs of local opium poppy farmers. The opium economy is a main source of income for people throughout the country. For many people in the country, participation in the drug economy is the only means of earning a sufficient income.

A survey conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime indicated that the main reason many Afghan farmers grow opium poppies is the high price of opium, which provides increased income, improved living conditions, and the ability to afford basic food and shelter. The criminalization of thousands of Afghan citizens jeopardizes the very aims of U. By labeling these individuals as criminals, and putting their livelihoods at risk, prohibition breeds disaffected citizens more likely to sympathize with terrorists.

As a result, many Afghans align themselves with the Taliban, who offer them protection from, and retaliation against, U. That alliance is strengthened by the fact that Taliban commanders, even those operating at the village level, often receive hundreds of thousands-if not millions-of dollars in revenues collected as taxes from farmers and smugglers in the opium economy.

What caused Mexico’s drug war?

The potential income prompted many to join the organization in hopes of improving their own livelihoods. Taken together, this criminalization of citizens has two undesirable effects. First, it strengthens the Taliban by pushing Afghan citizens toward the organization. Second, it undermines U. For many Afghans, U. Violence and U. Drug Policy in Afghanistan The cartelization of the drug industry in Afghanistan has also increased violence. No available data exist on deaths related to drug activities, but violence in the country is correlated with opium production.

For example, violence against U. Although the data may not be able to establish causality, the U. Poppy cultivation and insurgent violence are correlated geographically.

Duterte's drug war in the Philippines is out of control, he needs to be stopped

Just as drug prohibition in the United States created illicit profit opportunities that otherwise would not have existed, the same dynamic is present in Afghanistan. The ban on opium and other drugs, combined with U. As is well documented, under regimes of prohibition, bribing elected officials, judges, police, and military involved in combating illegal drugs is one way around legal restrictions.

Such activity is common in post-invasion Afghanistan. According to Thomas Schweich, special ambassador to Afghanistan during the Bush administration, many top Afghan officials are not only willing to turn a blind eye to drug activity, but are even complicit in the trade themselves. He notes that. This corruption extends to even the smallest eradication efforts. One counter-drug initiative undertaken by the U. While it appeared that leaders took well to the program, numerous reports found that local officials received their rewards for eradication only to use the funds to develop their own drug businesses in other parts of the country.

Corruption is also apparent at the highest levels of government. Wasifi, in turn, appointed several known corrupt politicians as local police chiefs. In , Afghan security forces uncovered a large stash of heroin, seizing the drugs and the truck in which they were being transported. The commander of the unit quickly received a phone call from Ahmed Wali Karzai, asking that the vehicle and drugs be released. After another phone call from an aide to Karzai, the commander complied. A lot of people in the Afghan government are involved in drug trafficking. Other instances of corruption within the Afghan government abound.

In , for example, British forces intercepted 20, pounds of opium in the office of prominent Afghan governor Sher Mohammed Akhundzada, a close ally of Karzai. He was forced out of office as a result of the incident but was later appointed to the senate. Although his appointment was withdrawn, he is now a prominent representative in the Afghan Parliament.

While U. According to the index, the government is perceived as easily influenced by private interests, and scored 11 out of on the Corruption Perceptions Index CPI for Scores nearer to indicate less corruption, while scores closer to zero denote high levels of corruption. Implications for Policy The shift in public attitudes regarding drug policy is remarkable. In , 73 percent of Americans surveyed favored a mandatory death sentence for major drug traffickers.

About 57 percent agreed that police should be allowed to search the residences of known drug dealers without a court order. A report by the Pew Research Center found that 67 percent of respondents thought that government should implement policies focused on treatment, while only 26 percent stated that prosecution should be the focus. Some 63 percent said that alcohol is more harmful to society, even if marijuana were to be made just as widely available.

Just as many states began to eschew alcohol prohibition prior to the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment, states today are taking serious steps toward relaxing some drug laws. However, drug policy has not shifted across the board. Some states have recently strengthened their drug laws, and other states have relaxed some laws while strengthening others. While the state imprisonment rate has fallen, the federal imprisonment rate has increased, from 59 to 62 sentenced prisoners per , people.

Under current law, Schedule I substances are the most restricted because they are considered to have a high potential for abuse and no legitimate medical use. This rejection cuts against previous statements by President Barack Obama and some other officials, who stated that scientific findings should drive U. In fact, only 9 percent of those who use marijuana fit the criteria for dependence.

To put this in perspective, approximately 15 percent of those who drink alcohol fit the criteria for dependence. What drives the continued War on Drugs is beyond the scope of this analysis. Researchers have pointed to benevolent though misguided intentions of policymakers. Others have argued that the numerous entrenched interests in continuing current U. Various reasons are offered for continuing the War on Drugs.

Some argue that current policies are the best way to achieve the objectives of increased health and less crime. Regardless, it is clear that current drug policy, whether examined from a domestic or international perspective, is an utter failure. As discussed above, U. These unintended consequences range from jail time to missing out on educational opportunities to living in violent societies, and to death.

While states have started to move in a more lenient direction with regard to their drug policies, their efforts appear insufficient, as with domestic policy, there is a variety of low-hanging fruit. These programs are effective not only at reducing disease transmission, but also at making neighborhoods safer for police, sanitation workers, and the general public by providing for the safe disposal of potentially infectious needles and syringes. These programs are also known to help drug users quit, as they provide users with information and access to treatment programs.

War on drugs

SSPs have the potential to save taxpayers millions of dollars, as heavy drug users are more likely to rely on public assistance programs. Changing this mandate has the potential to better fulfill the goals of increased health and public safety than do current policies. Conclusion It is time to consider the broader decriminalization or legalization of drugs, from marijuana to harder substances, and to focus on a more treatment-based approached.

While the idea of legalizing drugs such as heroin and cocaine may seem far-fetched, such a policy is not without precedent. In , Portugal enacted one of the most extensive drug reforms in the world when it decriminalized possession of all illicit drugs but retained criminal sanctions for activities such as trafficking.

Instead of making prohibition the main focus of its drug policy, the Portuguese government instead concentrated its efforts on treatment and harm reduction. The data from the Portuguese experience over the last 15 years illustrate how this marked policy shift ironically fulfills the purported goals of the War on Drugs.

Importantly, the use of drugs among particularly vulnerable populations, such as adolescents, has dropped. New HIV infections have fallen from 1, in to just 78 in The number of new AIDS cases over the same period fell from to The mechanisms behind these changes are no mystery to those familiar with the economics of prohibition. As one may expect, in a decriminalized regime, the information mechanisms allowing individuals to access information about quality are available. Users are now able to seek treatment or other assistance without self-incrimination.

People scrambling to fill that position. And then you have another cartel, the New Generation Jalisco Cartel, come roaring in, to fill that power vacuum. How has writing these books changed you? You know, the problem with writing these books is virtually everything in them really happened.

Obviously the characters are fictional, and you rearrange things for dramatic structure. Were you hesitant to go there? It would be dishonest in some ways.

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Do you know what I mean? Are you going to create George Washington or Abraham Lincoln as president? We all know who is president. And so, no, I thought that my choice was either I had to ignore it completely, or take it on. Look, I have no information, to be very clear, linking the real Donald Trump, or Jared Kushner, to drug money. This is fiction. We live in an extremely corrupt era.

We spend eighty billion dollars a year on prisons. What would you do to fix it? Addiction will always be with us, albeit not at this rate, right? Criminality will always be with us. But the first thing we can do to fix it is [to] legalize drugs. Across the board. Take the enormous profit out of the drug. That would be the first absolute major step.

The problem is, of course, the balloon effect. And so we squeezed the balloon in the marijuana place and the air went to heroin. The second thing that we need to do is take a really strong look at who we put behind bars and What is the point of putting a non-violent criminal behind bars? But that brought increased awareness. There seemed to be a tipping point, that was more generational than anything. And they just look at it from a marketing viewpoint….

Well exactly, it is capitalism. And they saw that the big pharmaceutical companies have created a ready-made market that they could underprice and undercut. And they did it very, very well. Was it hard to write some of those dope scenes with your junkie character Jackie? Well it was very hard. Yeah, it was tough.

No, this is it. Do you feel more hopeful from Mexico now, or less? And until we get our act straightened out, it will have the damaging effects on Mexico. The hypocrisy of this is mind-boggling.

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Again, the solution is always on the consumption side. You can grow as much opium in Durango and Sinaloa as you want, it makes no goddamn difference if nobody here wants the drug. Until we address those issues — economic pain, racial pain, pain of being left behind, all of these things — the drug problem is going to be with us in this severity. Seal off all trade with Mexico, right? The drugs will come through Canada or across the ocean. I like to think your book will help with that… I hope so.

Again, but my job is just to write a good crime novel. See Also.