500 word total, two sources total. 250 words per numbered response below, one source per response.
Q1: The coca-cocaine commodity chain was initially (for decades until the 1980s) composed of several different activities; from coca seed to final distribution and usage and/or storage by buyers, or for destruction by law enforcement agencies. Much of the coca crops through modern times has originated from the Andean regions of South America; countries such as Peru, Bolivia, and Columbia (Vellinga, 2007). Prior to America’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for cocaine (now a global phenomenon), the coca plant was grown and its leaves used by Andean people for its energy-providing capacity (Casikar, Mujica, Mongelli, Aliaga, Lopez, Smith, & Bartholomew, 2010) and pleasant feeling it gave the chewer. However, following the 1884 discovery by Karl Koller, in that cocaine (extracted from the coca plant) could be used for medical purposes as a local anesthetic (Bos, 2006), licit cocaine use enjoyed a modest legal industry to the rest of the medical and recreational world until the early 1900s; peaking to about 10 metric tons annually. Adverse effects of cocaine use/abuse prompted global leaders, including the United States, to outlaw its use. By the end of World War II, legal cocaine exports dropped dramatically; however, with the criminalization of cocaine by the 1950s, the illicit production, sales, and distribution of cocaine was manifested; to the tune of an estimated 900 to 1,400 metric tons of exports annually (Gootenberg, 2012).
Through most of its history, the coca-cocaine value chain included the planting of seed in areas not already natural to its growth, after that, two to three years down the road the mature shrub will produce coca leaves healthy with usable product for an estimated 15 years or so (Vellinga, 2007, p. 92). For the industrious grower (often Andean peasants), land is cleared of undesirable material (rocks and unwanted plants), seed beds are created and cultivated with coca seeds, the above mentioned wait occurs, perhaps next to mature beds, then for trafficking needs leaves are harvested and made into a paste/base for cocaine. The peasants doing this process can be assured a steady income (potentially throughout a year, not available with other crops) from wholesalers, who will bump up the price, and perhaps may be, or may not be, involved with further processes such as selling, trafficking, storing, and finally getting to the street dealers and users (Vellinga, 2007). However, due to law enforcement anti-drug activities being developed and instituted over the past four decades (tightened border security, drugs busts, and the ability to detect large shipments (“7,000 kilos or more” per load) (p. 97), and having street values in the millions of dollars, the coca-cocaine value commodity change is not putting most of the earnings in just a few hands, but in several hands handling processing through the route from growth to street sales. The breaking down of large cocaine entities, the breakup of large cartels, has formed new entrepreneurs in the marketing and sales of cocaine (p. 96).
When compared to the older cocaine barons of the 1990s, the newer more recent “low-profile” models for cocaine traffickers include, but are not limited to, those who do not have criminal records, people who do not spend lavishly so as not to attract attention to themselves or their associates, are most likely not property owners, work from their residences (as opposed to having an office), do not use banks for their monetary exchanges and caches, do not use electronic communication methods (live messengers instead), and may employ people on a temporary basis; such as paying people to transport cocaine across the U.S. borders (Vellinga, 2007, p. 98). These “couriers,” however, may number in the thousands (estimated at 22,000 to 44,000 into Europe in 2002 (p. 98); making up in small batches to many, from large single shipment events; more easily prone to legal seizures by law enforcement.
Bodypackers, as they are now often referred to, consume balloon-like containers of cocaine; amounting to anywhere from 400 grams to perhaps an entire kilo (Vellinga, 2007, p. 98). If 44,000 people bring in just 400 grams per year, the total is 17.6 tons; or 44 tons for the same number of people, each swallowing one kilo of coke. These couriers may receive anywhere from US$1,500 to $10,000 per trip for their part in the value-chain. The risks fall onto the couriers, and the temptation for quick money plays into their acceptance of such a task; most likely being from a poor socioeconomic status (p. 98).
Other members of the value chain include money launderers who: (1) place the funds in the illegal pool (perhaps using a front company of some sort; “bars, restaurants, night clubs”); (2) layer the money through other businesses, then finally (3) integrate the funds through normal legal channels; no doubt receiving their slice of the financial pie along the way. Traffickers these days may also be the ones doing the laundering (Vellinga, 2007, p. 100).
In conclusion, though the fight against organized criminal pyramid-like structures has been taken down a notch or two over the last few decades, individual risk-taking persons by the tens of thousands have replaced them; spreading the wealth for the illicit narcotics trade. And, as Vellinga (2007) has suggested, this new process for trafficking cocaine may be sending one or more generations of young people into the hands of criminality; a future which has dubious long-term outcomes.
Q2: The legalization of all drugs should be considered due to the violence perpetrated by members of drug cartels and others who benefit financially by being involved with the risky drug trade. It has been estimated that over 45,000 people in Mexico have been murdered since 2006; when then President Felipe Calderon implemented his all-out-war strategy against the cartels in Mexico (Dulin, & PatiÃ±o, 2014). For the six years prior to 2006, a total of 9,000 murders had been committed; a factor of five difference. And the type of violence has only gotten worse; with the use of grenades and car bombings. In spite of this, an international agreement on developing new policies regarding a new approach to the global drug problem has fallen on deaf ears.
Former presidents of Mexico, Columbia, and Switzerland, as well as a former UK prime minister, Nick Clegg, were/are members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, and they promoted the notion of countries “experimenting” with their policies on drug prohibition; including “heroin, cocaine, and cannabis,” for the purpose of reducing harm (Hurley, 2016, p. 1). They suggested not going along with the United Nations general assembly (UNGASS) in maintaining the status quo concerning the war-like mentality against drug use and trafficking problems. Current drug policies globally have not reduced the supply or demand side of the problem. Nor have the current policies reduced violence between rival cartels or corruption of public officials. Human rights have also been violated due to current drug policies. The Commission recommended global drug policies directed more toward a human health perspective derived from empirical evidence on what reduces violence and corruption (Hurley, 2016).
Hurley (2016) also points out that during the 1970s the U.S. had about 40,000 people imprisoned for drug offenses, by 2016 there were an estimated 500,000 of these types of offenders. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime reported that in 2008 about 4.6% of the adult population has a drug use problem, and that the figure rose to 5.2% in 2012; about 243 million people globally. The director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Margaret Chan, has brought up the point that instead of looking at the problem from a criminal justice perspective, it should instead be looked at as a health problem (Hurley, 2016). WHO has drug intervention processes which have proved to be effective.
With regards to individual violence, drug use, and criminal behavior, one Canadian study points out that “people who use illicit drugs” (PWUD) often are employed; however, those falling into polydrug abuse have lower employment rates, thus exposing them to contexts of risk taking behavior (often to support their habit), become a marginalized society, and are exposed to higher incidents of violence (Richardson, DeBeck, Nguyen, Milloy, Wood, & Kerr, 2015). “Exposure to physical violence is a major cause of morbidity and mortality among PWUD,” (p. 686). Also, the younger a person is exposed to physical violence, the more apt they are to become involved with the sex trade and drug dealing, both of which bring about “further risks of violence,” (Richardson et al, 2015).
In conclusion, if illicit drugs were made legal and controlled, or perhaps to a large extent simply decriminalized, fewer people may end up in prison, and fewer may be exposed to the types of physical violence which appears to follow many PWUD persons around until it eventually kills them; or at least is partially responsible for their premature demise.
Bos, A. (2006). The history of licit cocaine in the Netherlands. De Economist (0013-063X), 154(4), 581â€“586. https://doi-org.ezproxy1.apus.edu/10.1007/s10645-0…
Casikar, V., Mujica, E., Mongelli, M., Aliaga, J., Lopez, N., Smith, C., & Bartholomew, F. (2010). Does chewing coca leaves influence physiology at high altitude? Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry, 25(3), 311-314. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy1.apus.edu/10.1007/s12291…
Gootenberg, P. (2012). Cocaine’s long march north, 1900-2010. Latin American Politics and Society, 54(1), 159-180. Retrieved March 2, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/41485345
Hurley, R. (2016). Consider legalising drugs despite UN treaties, says influential commission. BMJ : British Medical Journal (Online), 353 doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy2.apus.edu/10.1136/bmj.i2…
Richardson, L. A., Long, C., DeBeck, K., Nguyen, P., Milloy, M. S., Wood, E., & Kerr, T. H. (2015). Socioeconomic marginalisation in the structural production of vulnerability to violence among people who use illicit drugs. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 69(7), 686. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy2.apus.edu/10.1136/jech-2…
Vellinga, M. (2007). The illegal drug industry in Latin America: The coca-cocaine commodity value chain. Ibero-Americana, 37(2), 89-105,3,7. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/docv…