Policies to combat drug trafficking

Drug trafficking is a Illegal activity of global scope that includes the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, sale and control of drug markets.

The irregular groups that are dedicated to this include extortion, kidnapping, robbery, trafficking in women, money laundering, piracy and smuggling. Y in the countries where they operate they create poverty, inequality, violence, corruption and impunity.

Although not very effective, in countries affected by these complex problems, policies are being created to combat drug trafficking.

Some figures

  • World markets: The most widely used drugs are cannabis (marijuana), cocaine, methamphetamines, and opiates (opium, morphine, and heroin).
  • Opiates: The poppy is grown in 49 countries, mainly in Asia and America. Production has decreased, but its consumption remains stable. 33 million users are estimated.
  • Cannabis: It is the most commercialized drug and the one with the largest cultivation area, 129 countries do so, especially in America and Africa. 187 million users are estimated.
  • Cocaine: Seven countries in America cultivate it. Its consumption remains stable. 17 million users are estimated.
  • Synthetic drugs: amphetamines have their market in Asia, North America and Oceania. Its consumption has increased. 35 million users are estimated.

The figures provided by the United Nations (UN) showed that, by 2015, 272 million people were drug users.

Characteristics of drug trafficking

  • Profit.
  • It works under a hierarchical structure and explicit rules.
  • It is monopolistic.
  • Its activity may involve different territories and in different countries.
  • Their money permeates even state institutions.
  • You can have a presence in legal businesses.
  • He uses violence to achieve his goals.
  • There are no clear examples of success in their combat.
  • Production, consumption and profit figures are unreliable.

Policies to combat drug trafficking

Given the serious incidence of drug trafficking in the lives of countries, world institutions have generated policies that seek to eradicate activity in the world, to solve the problems it has caused in their populations and to prevent new people from getting involved in it.

The UN has specific guidelines to tackle the problem of drug trafficking.

Under its bosom, there are agencies dedicated to the issue, such as the Office Against Drugs and Crime (UNODC), created in 2005, and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, who work in coordination with the other agencies and the affected countries.

One of the three pillars of the UNODC points to the essential work of regulating this illegal activity in countries affected by drug production or consumption.

In this sense, one of its missions is: “to provide assistance to States with a view to the ratification and application of international treaties, as well as to the development of national legislation on drugs, crime and terrorism …”

Annually, the agency publishes its World Drug Report in which it offers information on global trends and statistics related to the problem.

The UN develops the main policies against the effects of drug trafficking for member countries. Among them are:

  • Prevention programs in the education, social welfare and health systems.
  • Development-oriented drug policies.
  • Treatment, care, rehabilitation and reintegration.
  • Guidelines on the respect of human rights.

However, it is in the affected countries themselves, both producers and consumers, where the need to create measures to control the drug market and its effects on the population prevails.

Policies to combat drug trafficking, historically, have been aimed at prohibition. From the United States, one of the first consumers in the world, Richard Nixon said, in 1971, that public enemy number one was drug trafficking. Since then, that premise guided the steps.

In 2016, the UN proposed a strategy to decriminalize consumption, since those who generally go to jail are consumers or small traffickers.

Worldwide, there is also the IDPC, the International Drug Policy Consortium, a network of 182 NGOs specialized in matters concerning the use and production of controlled drugs.

From it, calls are made to review its laws in an attempt to reduce the harm caused by drugs and increase the sentences related to them. These include:

  • Proportionality in sentences with respect to the degree and motivation of being involved in the drug market and when compared with other crimes.
  • Amnesties for people incarcerated for drug offenses.
  • Elimination of accusations for the use and possession of drugs used for personal consumption.
  • Legal regulation of cannabis.

Policies against drug trafficking in some regions and countries

In Europe

Consumption is its biggest problem and its policies are aimed at:

  • Demand control.
  • Partial decriminalization of consumption.
  • Harmonization of laws in its member countries.

In America

The Organization of American States (OAS) created, in 2011, the Hemispheric Plan of Action on Drugs
from where it seeks to strengthen institutions, reduce supply and demand and evaluate implemented policies.

In Mexico

  • The Mexican Supreme Court of Justice approved the request of the Mexican Society of Responsible and Tolerant Self-consumption (Smart) to allow the cultivation of marijuana for self-consumption and non-profit.
  • Its policies remain focused on the fight against organized crime.

In Colombia

  • Comprehensive National Program for the Substitution of Illicit Crops (PNIS): aimed at the voluntary substitution of crops, with guarantees, to improve the infrastructure to switch to other products and profitability for the farmers who take advantage of the program.
  • Creation, in 2017, of the National Coordinator of Coca, Poppy and Marijuana Leaf Growers (COCCAM) to promote voluntary substitution and compliance with PNIS.
  • Organized crime is at the center of his policies against drug trafficking.

In Brazil

  • Creation of the community police, the UPPs19, which acts once the government announces the operations.
  • GPAE Project: warned about the danger of being armed, selling drugs near schools and not using minors to sell drugs.

Limitations in the implementation of these policies

  • Although the exchange of information and government cooperation in the area have increased in recent years, civil society is the one who has mobilized to seek alternatives and strategies to deal with the problem.
  • There are legal loopholes and a lack of consensus among countries to confront, in a consensual manner, organized crime related to drug trafficking.
  • Cycles of violence in some countries tend to grab public attention and spending to deal with them.
  • The costs associated with policies are very high and, generally, countries are not willing – or cannot – face them alone.

The drug trafficking problem is complex. They are essential multilevel policies that reach the different links in the production and commercialization of drugs.

Create care and prevention strategies for the inhabitants It is essential and the States must assume the leading, ethical and moral role that is expected of them.

Documentary video

Do not miss this interesting documentary made on the occasion of the promotion and the film “El Niño” by Daniel Monzón. It deals with different real experiences, both of drug traffickers and of the Civil Guard.

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