International Drug Trafficking is rated in the top five of the most common crimes and top three for the serious impact it has on people and the economy positively and negatively.
The sources that have used have been peer-reviewed and each of them explains the different kind of impact International Drug Trafficking offers not only to the U.S, but also other countries around the world; “Drug Supply Networks: A Systematic Review of the Organizational Structure of Illicit Drug Trade” written by Gisela Bichler, “Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime” written by Felipe Caldern, “Drug Trafficking Organizations and Local Economic Activity in Mexico” written by Felipe Gonzalez, “Mexico: Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking Organizations” written by June S. Beittel, and “Illicit Drug Trafficking in Nigeria: Obstacle to National Development and Security” written by Abiodun, TF.
These sources have different “eyes” and point of views that narrows down my research on International Drug Trafficking. The theory chosen for this paper is the Strain Theory by Robert Merton. It was chosen because of the amount of diversity within the theory; for example, limitations of social structure, freedom, social mobility, high crime rates among the lower class, and the five responses to society. This all connects with the international impact International Drug Trafficking has had on the world.
In the article written by Gisela Bichler. she did the research on what it is like to be apart of a trafficking group and what skills it takes to do so. She exclaims that there are more than one type of drug trafficking business and that the stereotypical drug traffickers are of Spanish descent and sell cocaine to the borders of the U.S, “Our first set of research questions examine whether the SNA finds specific network structures common to drug trafficking organizations; if there are differences between group structures and market structures…” (Bichler).
She goes on to talk about how there are hundreds of different trafficking groups and each of them has a connection to another. Bichler also mentioned that each group has its own “set-up” and “set of networks” that they use for their business’. According to the article, the networks work as hand-me-downs. It all starts off at the top and it finds its way down to the bottom which are the people that do the street distributions once that narcotic has made it into that specific region, “Networks engaging in illicit activity have to balance the need for efficient business connection and communication and secrecy.” (Bichler).
This is probably the most important aspect of international drug traffickers because its country is different when it comes to the recon and information that is passed down to them. Each country has different ports and different access to databases that allow them to see what is going on. Some wealthier countries (U.S, China, Canada) all have the technological resources to see what is going on and some of the time, that there is not enough. Then there are countries that are poorer (Nigeria, Iraq, Italy) that basically must guess what and when is coming into their country.
This is when the Social Mobility of the Strain Theory comes into play. This works with Bichler’s article because being social is key to be a successful international drug trafficker. Without being social, one will have no idea how to move products or who to contact to help. Social Mobility comes with various aspects that help drug traffickers be successful at what they do. The first is communication, without it, there is no way someone can be successful in the business.
They need to communicate with people that are not in their inner circle and be able to step outside that comfort zone. The second is confidentiality, with communication, comes confidentiality of who one is contacting and what they are trying to do. Being discreet with what someone is doing in that type of business is hard to do with today’s modern technology but obviously from the amount of drug trafficking that has happened around the world, it works. The last one is a cultural imbalance which is playing it safe and not taking unnecessary risks to put you and or the business that one is involved in, in danger.
In the article written by Abiodun, he goes on to explain the UN’s concern about the drug trafficking coming out and into Nigeria. As he explains, 70% of Nigeria is in great poverty and as illegal as drug trafficking is in that country, it is also very common, and one would think they would find a way to raise the economy up in the country. He also points out that they traffic more out of the country than they bring in, “However, various types of drugs in heavy; cannabis, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and others are smuggled in and out of the country and they are sealed in ceramics, woman hairs, bags, sewing threads, basket handles and even swallowed by the traffickers.” (Abiodun).
This is ideal for this country because of the low surveillance on them due to their economic status. He also goes into the social factors that are common in Nigeria to encourage drug trafficking such as, peer pressure, financial issues, youth unemployment (biggest factor), and the “Get-Rich Quickly Syndrome.” The youth unemployment factor is the one that stands out to me the most because they are a valuable target. Kids are kids; they can be manipulated in any way and people do not really expect kids of a young age to be involved in that kind of ordeal.
The Strain Theory ties into this because of the pressure to engage in non-conformist conduct. No matter the age in that country, everyone has some sort of financial issue that is non-avoidable and because of that, kids, teens, and adults fall into the social pressure to be involved in the idea of drug trafficking. In that country, as said in the article by Abiodun, 70% of the people are poor and live in mud houses and or shacks. People will begin to feel like the only way to make money, is to get themselves involved with drug trafficking.
As unfortunate as it is, this also raises the crime rate in the country which also puts a spotlight on them for the UN to be able to track what is coming in and or out of the country more effectively. People will feel as though falling into the drug trafficking business is their only hope which leads to another factor in the Strain Theory which is the higher crime rates of the lower class. This is practically fair game for the people in Nigeria. Crime for more than half of the country’s population could possibly be influenced by the pressure of trafficking drugs to better themselves and their families.
In the article written by Felipe Gonzalez, he talks about how there are different types of “DTO’s” which are the different groups that are involved in drug trafficking in and out of Mexico. He talks more about the number of groups that are in the country, the economic and crime rates, “Although the Mexican government has been fighting the drug industry in the last decades, DTOs have been expanding across space and violence has increased dramatically (see Fig 1). The movements of these illegal firms across space has been associated with increases in violence as DTOs fight to control strategic territories.” (Gonzalez).
As he talks about the crime rates in Mexico and how DTO’s are expanding to control certain sectors of the country to add to their territory, this has affected the economic standpoint of the government. Every time the Cartel decides to expand, it expands its economic and social range which can greatly influence in a negative way in a small city and or town. This can also be beneficial for this city or town depending on how involved that population is with the DTO’s.
Ruling out other means of pursuing goals is apart of the Strain Theory which ties into this article. The idea of pursuing their goals in another way that is not conformant with society is exactly what these drug traffickers are doing because Mexico is not on the list of poorer Countries in the world. It does have its poor locations but overall, they have excellent universities, family morals, and they are able to have that line of success if they are conformant with society and pursue their goals the right way. People care a lot about money and if you do have lots of money, you are more powerful than the people that do not. In the article, Gonzalez explains the power that the DTO’s have because of their size and the amount of money they have. They can pursue their goals in a way that involves money and power.
In the article written by June S. Bietell, she explains lots of different demographics that involved different DTO’s such as the rivalry between different groups, the corruption of both U.S and Mexico military, law enforcement, and government that allow them to continue their drug trafficking inside Mexico and across the United States borders, “Police corruption has been so extensive that law enforcement officials corrupted or infiltrated by the DTOs and other criminal groups sometimes carry out their violent assignments. Purges of Mexico’s municipal, state, and federal police have not contained the problem.” (Bietell).
This is a problem for both Mexico and the U.S because they have been corrupted with what one can guess by money. She also expands the knowledge of how the DTO’s have dramatically expanded across Mexico and how they have been practically at war with each other, fighting over certain territories. This is where the corruption of law enforcement, military, and the government come into play because these DTOs will pay them off for them to let them fight, murder, rape, and traffic illicit narcotics in order to make their own profit.
Appetites created by culture with Strain Theory adhere to this article because with the amount of corruption and violence, it turns into a discussion of if it is a social norm in society that actions like this take place. People adapt very easily, at first, they will resist it until they realize there is no resisting and they have no choice but to go with the flow.
With the corruption, it is very hard to not adapt to what is going on around someone when the people that are supposed to protect them and enforce the laws, get paid off and turn a blind eye like nothing else is happening. They fall into a series of violence that they have no choice but to participate in because it basically ties into their culture. Appetites created by culture are kind of ironic in a way because people believe that they must follow their societies norms and beliefs, that is until something else intrudes into those norms and their beliefs that may benefit them or participate in retreatism.
In the article written by Felipe Caldern, he talks about how Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime are two different crimes, but they do tie into each other which makes it extremely dangerous. The only difference between the two is with Organized Crime, which is when objects are being sold illegally for profit in trade for the same product. Where Drug Trafficking is selling an illicit drug in another country while in return expecting guns, women, children, money, and other objects that are “attached” with the sale.
Caldern goes into detail explaining (again) how much easier it is to be involved in drug trafficking instead of Organized Crime because of the corruption and pay off of the law enforcement and government, “However, In the case of Mexico the chronic weaknesses of law enforcement institutions and the huge corruption practices inherited from the “ancient regime” (based both in the lack of rule of law and practices that creates perverted “values”) allowed organized crime to penetrate institutions. Not merely a policeman in the corner, but all the way to take over full control of the complete police corporation. In fact, in some cases, one of the main conditions that the criminals impose on candidates to allow them to run for mayor is to be appointed his future Police Chief.
Of course, there have been many mayors or police chiefs that, with courage, rejected bribes; but many of them were threatened or even killed by criminals.” (Caldren). It is unfathomable to believe that these large drug corporations have this much control. For the countries that this aspect affects (most), this is something that is very hard to overcome because the people that have the courage to stand up for what they believe is right and better for their city/ country, get murdered, threatened, or paid so much money that they cannot refuse and buy into whatever the DTOs want to do. He also explains how “low institutional strength” is why corruption, violence, and drug trafficking are so high in Mexico compared to countries like the U.S and Canada. He says this because the people that live in countries like the U.S and Canada can be successful without joining in on the violence and drug smuggling because of the high institutional aspects.
Robert Martin has many ways to explain the Strain Theory but the aspect of imbalance (based on values in the cultures) is what sticks out to me in this article because values are a hit or miss when it comes to drug trafficking. As said in the article, they do indeed have values within their culture. But those values are easily erupted when a high official is murdered, threatened, or paid off because the DTOs want him/ her to do what they need them to do. It is an imbalance of social values that makes it extremely difficult for people to follow because there is a lot more on the line than just disappointing someone. Imbalance also falls into peer pressure. People are peer pressured to do something every day even though they know it is the wrong thing to do but are left with little to no options.
International Drug Trafficking has had a serious impact on all countries in the world. Some more than others but that ties into the Strain Theory. In some countries, people are more influenced than people in other countries depending on the economic status, crime rate, and geography of the country. The Strain Theory explains why International Drug Trafficking is so devastating but effective all over the world. It brings attention to the smaller details that influence this crime that may be beneficial to law enforcement in the near future.
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