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Declining Results of the Us Drug Interdiction Mission

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Declining results of the U.S. Drug Interdiction Mission

MSG Willie L. Brooks

United States Army Sergeants Major Academy

Class 69

SGM Craig/ Mr. Artis

15 October 2018

Declining results of the U.S. drug interdiction mission

The import of illegal drugs into the United States has been a serious public policy problem for almost five decades.  An important part of the response to that problem has been drug interdiction, the seizure of drugs as they travel between the source countries and the United States.  Federal agencies have greater authority and resources for the interdiction program.  It now constitutes the largest single component of the rapidly growing federal drug enforcement effort.  The Department of Defense and other government agencies have spent more than $520.6 billion over the last 50 years in support of the “War on Drugs”.  This paper will show that in the face of of substantial funding and allocated resources the United States’ military drug interdiction mission has had minimal effects on the flow of illegal drugs into the United States.  These results are more disturbing because the United States continues to have high levels of illegal drugs smuggled into the country.

According to the National Drug Enforcement Policy Board (Giv1986), "the primary objective of drug interdiction is to substantially reduce the availability of illegal drugs in the United States by limiting the flow of drugs smuggled into this country, through seizures of drugs and through deterrence of potential drug smugglers".  The demand for drugs will Drug interdiction The U.S. military cannot substantially reduce the import of drugs able to execute the drug interdiction mission to the level needed to see a significant without changes to current laws

Supply and Demand

The primary focus of the United States’ drug policy has been to reduce the illegal drug supply in America.  If this drug strategy and program been successful, then the supply of illegal drugs in American cities would be getting smaller, prices for illegal drugs would be increasing, and the level of purity would be decreasing.  By every measurement the government uses, illegal drugs are overflowing, pure, and getting cheaper  According to the 2014 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, an estimated 86.7 million Americans had used or were using illegal drugs.  In 1972, U.S. law enforcement agencies dismantled the primary drug trafficking route between France and the United States.  By destroying the “French Connection,” the criminal syndicates in South America, primarily Colombia, rose to become the lead in production and export of illegal drugs to the United States.  These criminal organizations introduced cocaine and heroin into the United States on a massive scale.  By the 1980s, the United States accounted for over 42% of the South American drug cartels sales.  Today crime syndicates in Colombia, Mexico, and other countries control illegal drug trafficking.  These drug cartels produce and distribute heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, and other illegal substances on an unprecedented scale.  These traffickers have developed highly sophisticated crime organizations to prevent local, state, and national law enforcement efforts.  They employ large numbers of people to produce, ship, and distribute illegal drugs.  Cartels also employ thousands of people to launder money, provide communications and security, and recruit replacements.  The drug traffickers have near limitless budgets; they can purchase technologically advanced airplanes, boats, vehicles, radars, communications equipment, and weapons.  Many of these criminal organizations have funding and equipment exceeding the resources of many small countries.  For many citizens the drug trade is the only way to make a living wage.  This factor has caused the biggest problem with government support of drug interdiction operations within the export countries.  One factor often ignored when battling illegal drugs is the profit.  The profit gained by selling illegal substances is so high, that even very large drug seizures have a limited capacity to threaten the profitability of drug traffickers.  Drug traffickers are prepared to lose up to 80% of their produce because the cost-effectiveness is remains exceedingly high.  If the national drug reduction strategy were working, drug seizures would result in drastic price increases.  As previously stated, illegal drug prices in the U.S. are lower, and purity is higher than at any previously recorded time.

If drug interdiction operations were more successful, and prices for illegal drugs rose significantly, the increasing price and profit would only draw new manufacturers and traffickers to the market.  The huge profit potential would create an incentive for more people to provide illegal drugs.  This would increase the demand for more U.S. counterdrug missions.

Clearly Defined Mission and Endstate

As the perceived threat of communism faded and eventually collapsed in the 1980s, the drug war replaced the Cold War as the military's central mission in the western hemisphere.  Few senior leaders in the military embraced the counter-narcotic mission without reservation.  Many commanders and their staffs reluctantly complied with the Pentagon's directive.  In 1986, Congress passed an Anti-Drug Abuse Act giving the Executive Branch more authority to fight the growing drug problem.  The military was pulled into the “war on drugs” when President Ronald Reagan signed the 1986 National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 221 which referred to international narcotics trafficking as a “threat to United States national security.”  This presidential directive expanded national drug enforcement agencies to include the Treasury, Transportation, Justice, State, and Department of Defense.  It also gave the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), a role in counter drug operations.

In 1989, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) became public law.  The Department of Defense then became the sole principal agency responsible for the detection and observation of aerial and maritime transit of illegal drugs into the United States, in addition to numerous other responsibilities.  The FY1989 NDAA, however, marked the first legislatively mandated counter-narcotics mission for the Pentagon.  Because of unsuccessful efforts of law enforcement agencies to stop the flow of illegal narcotics into the United States, Congress and the public have been demanding that the military increase its role in the nation's anti-drug campaign.  These demands vary in scope.  The minimum demand is that the military provide a more logistical support and intelligence data.  Another, approved by Congress in 1988, also gave military personnel powers of search, seizure, and arrest outside the land area of the United States.  Some also supported giving civilian police powers to the military to patrol the national borders, including ports of entry.  In May 1988, the House of Representatives voted to demand that the military “seal the borders” to drug traffic within 45 days, an effort which would require both naval and border interdiction.  The Senate voted overwhelmingly to expand the role of the military in the drug interdiction mission.



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