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Trafficking Drugs in the Global Village

NCJ Number
Transnational Organized Crime Volume: 3 Issue: 2 Dated: Summer 1997 Pages: 90-110
D Keh; G Farrell
Date Published
21 pages
Global interdependence and technological advances are discussed in terms of how they have transformed the illicit drug trade and the viability of existing drug law enforcement efforts.
The analysis is based on routine activity theory, which suggests that seemingly extraneous and unrelated routine activities can exacerbate a phenomenon such as drug trafficking over time. The discussion notes that the supply of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana continues to increase, while retail prices have steadily declined in major markets. Technological, socioeconomic, and political change have facilitated each stage of drug production, manufacture, trafficking, demand, and money laundering. Nevertheless, public policy still has a role in drug control efforts. Drug policy at both the national and international levels needs to adapt to the insuperable impact of globalization. A pragmatic approach that aims to save lives and reduce health risks would seem to be more appropriate within the context of prohibition than would a continuation of the untenable zero-tolerance approach. It is likely that the current system of international drug control will not be flexible enough to withstand the pressures that globalization places on it. Governments have also proved unable to handle the control of the demand for drugs; nurturing community-based approaches is regarded by some as the only way that governments can still have a role in preventing or minimizing the risks related to illicit drug use. Overall, it is clear that better compliance with existing international controls will not be enough; different approaches are needed. Figures, tables, and 35 reference notes