Jaime E. Carlson
SOC305: Crime & Society
Instructor: Alexis Durham
November 3rd, 2014
Drugs have been around for many years in different forms. Initially drugs were used to help people with various problems until it was noted that they are addictive and eventually became illegal. Most drugs come from plants and have multiple purposes. However once they were turned into street drugs or used as a form of self-medication is when most drugs became illegal. This means it is a crime to have drugs in your possession for both use and distribution.
The U.S. has been fighting the war on drugs for decades without making any type of impact; in fact, drugs in America have gotten worse. “All states regulate and control the possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for their possession (Nolo, 2014). This tells us as American citizens that each state has a punishment for possessing each drug and the amount of the drug is going to be a factor in their punishment. The more drugs one has on them, the kind of drug they possess, and each crime more or less punishable than the other. You can be caught in California with the same drugs you get caught with in Illinois and the punishment will most likely be different. “Illinois divides felonies into five classes: X, 1, 2, 3, and 4 based on factors such as their potential for abuse, and whether they are approved for legitimate medical use. CDS possession crimes can be of any class other than Class X. Class 1 felony possessions are the most serious and receive the harshest penalties. Misdemeanors are divided into three classes: Class A, B, and C” (Nolo, 2014). Typically in Illinois if you’re charged with a nonviolent drug crime there is a chance you can avoid jail time by accepting a treatment option through drug court instead. Not everyone is entitled to this option, you cannot be a repeat drug offender and you have to successfully complete all of the mandated requirements. However, sometimes one is still given jail time or probation with no option of rehab. Sometimes it is because the criminal has no want to change either.
The illegal drug market in the United States is one of the most profitable in the world. As such, it attracts the most ruthless, sophisticated, and aggressive drug traffickers. Drug trafficking has impacted the lives of people of all ages, races, ethnical backgrounds, and sexes. “Drug law enforcement agencies face an enormous challenge in protecting the country's borders. Each year, according to the U.S. Customs Service, 60 million people enter the United States on more than 675,000 commercial and private flights. Another 6 million come by sea and 370 million by land. In addition, 116 million vehicles cross the land borders with Canada and Mexico. More than 90,000 merchant and passenger ships dock at U.S. ports. The above drug traffickers are not normal people that we want to run into, they have people all over the world working and supplying their drugs any and everywhere they need them to go.
The boarders, overseas, in people’s suitcases, on planes, taped to people’s bodies, inserted into animals, and many more are ways that people can smuggle the drugs into different countries. If one person gets caught and their shipment is contained and possessed by law enforcement, they just move on to the next guy willing to smuggle the drugs into locations so their money can still be made. For example, in the late 1970’s, Colombian drug traffickers began setting up an elaborate network for smuggling cocaine into the US” (Foundation for a Drug Free World, 2014).
Ships carry more than 9 million shipping containers and 400 million tons of cargo. Another 157,000 smaller vessels visit our many coastal towns. This voluminous trade, drug traffickers conceal cocaine, heroin,