The drama/crime movie The French Connection, released in 1971 portrays drug trafficking in the eyes of two New York detectives in the Narcotics Bureau investigating the smuggling of heroin with a French Connection.
Illegal drug trafficking has received a lot of attention for decades because of its impact. It is important to know about the history and what’s been done to prevent or “fight it.”
As a criminal justice major, I’ve studied on this topic and have always been interested in topics like this. I have read articles and done some research online about illegal drug trafficking.
The history of illegal drug trade started in China.
Drug trafficking dates back to the 1800s in China with the illegal trading of opiums. Illegal drug trade emerged in the United States in mid-19th century.
- a. Throughout the mid 19th century, people immigrated from China arrived in California and introduced Americans to smoking the opium. This is when the selling, distributing, and trading of opiums started to spread across/throughout the region and to other urban areas such as New York.
- b. According to the article History of Drug Trafficking on History.com, drug trafficking in U.S. consisted of substances such as opium, marijuana, and cocaine were and have been sold and distributed throughout United States history, resulting in terrible consequences.
- c. Americans then started to experiment with other opiates such as morphine.
- d. The Harrison Act of 1914 was then established to “outlaw the use of opium and cocaine for non- medical purposes” but the trade still continued and in 1925, “a black market for opium opened up in New York’s Chinatown.”
- e. The drug trade still continued on during the jazz era in the 1930-40s and marijuana had became a popular drug too.
Organized groups started selling and smuggling outlawed drugs.
- a. In the 1950s, American Mafia families started selling and smuggling drugs along with other illegal activities.
- b. According to History of Drug Trafficking on History.com, “the Mafia’s participation in drug trade was sometimes known as “French Connection” because smugglers in New York City would seize shipments of Turkish opium that arrived from Paris and Marseilles, France.”
Mexican drug cartels began to emerge in the late 20th century.
- a. According to the article, the U.S. – Mexican border became the main route for transporting many drugs such as cocaine into the U.S.
- b. The Sinaloa Federation is one of the biggest and well known Mexican Cartel all around and it still operates to this day.
- c. The notorious drug lord Joaquin Guzman, also known as El Chapo led the Cartel, beginning in 1989.
- d. El Chapo was considered the “most powerful drug trafficker in the world” by U.S. Department of Treasury in 2003. After being arrested several of times and escaping from prison, he was finally caught in 2016 and handed over to the U.S. in 2017 for criminal charges.
Transition: Now that I’ve went over some the history of drug trade, I will discuss the impact the impact that illegal drug trade has on today’s society. Drug trafficking affects things in our lives from high crime rates to environmental destruction.
Drug trafficking and drug abuse in the U.S. affects almost all parts of our lives. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Drug Intelligence National Drug Threat Assessment 2010, “the damage caused by drug abuse and addiction is reflected in an overburdened justice system, a strained healthcare system, lost productivity, and environmental destruction.” The economic cost alone was almost $215 million. The use of illegal drugs has also impacted health care and health.
According to the assessment, many people who become dependent on illegal drugs eventually seeks treatment. The illicit drug market impacts societies all over, including Europe, affecting their economy, environment, and crimes through drug-related crimes.
- a. According to the 2016 EU Drug Markets Report, “illicit drug markets have a range of impact on neighborhoods and society in general.”
- b. The report states that the overall cost to drug-related acquisitive
- crime in England and Wales in 2010 through 2011 has been estimated to be millions of euros.
- c. The illegal production of synthetic and plant based drugs involves harm to the environment when disposing the waste products, especially from the production of synthetic drugs, and this is becoming “a growing problem” in some parts of Europe.
Transition: Now that we’ve discussed the impact that drug trafficking has on today’s society, I will discuss the different organizations and agencies that have been established to fight the “war on drugs.”
There have been agencies such as DEA, FBI, and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, that have been created to prevent and fight the trafficking of drugs, along with other crimes in America.
The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) was established in 1973 by President Richard Nixon. According to Brief History of the DEA on jems.com, it was created to fight “an all-out global war on the drug menace.” DEA.gov states that “the mission of the DEA has been to enforce the controlled substance laws and regulations of th United States…”
This agency is still currently operative and “retains and presence in the U.S. and 63 foreign countries” with a budget over 2 billion dollars. The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) was formed in 1908. According to FBI.gov, their mission is “to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States.” Although their mission isn’t directly towards fighting the “war on drugs, they do work closely with other agencies “ to disrupt and dismantle entire criminal organizations.” The article also states that “the FBI has determined that the most effective means in combatting this crime is to use the enterprise of theory investigation, which focuses on investigations and prosecutions on entire criminal enterprises rather than on individuals.”
The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force was created in 1982.
- a. According to DEA.gov, this program was established “to mount a comprehensive attack and reduce the supply of illegal drugs in the United States and diminish the violence and other criminal activity associated with the drug trade.”
- b. Both the OCDETF and DEA have the same mission for the “war on drugs.”
- c. This program also operates nationwide and also works with other agencies.
I went over the history of drug trafficking. I discussed the impact that drug trade has on today’s society. Finally, I discussed the organizations and agencies that have been established to fight the “war on drugs.” Illegal drug trafficking is and has been one of the most well known crime globally. It’s a dangerous crime and has impacted societies all over.
In closing, we see that drug trafficking has changed since its beginning. Comparing the past and present, we now have the advanced technology, federal agencies, etc. to prevent the trafficking of drugs. It’s important to know the facts, what’s been and still is being done to put a stop to drugs!
- Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/organized-crime-drug-enforcement-task-force-ocdetf
- What is the FBI doing about drug trafficking? (2016, June 13). Retrieved from https://www.fbi.gov/about/faqs/what-is-the-fbi-doing-about-drug-trafficking.
- Brief History of the DEA. (2019, September 2). Retrieved from https://www.jems.com/2009/12/31/brief-history-dea/.
- The French Connection. (1971, October 9). Retrieved from https://m.imdb.com/title/tt0067116/?ref_=m_ttls_tt_25.
- Task Forces. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/task-forces.
- Katharina.kiener-Manu. (n.d.). Organized Crime Module 3 Key Issues: Drug Trafficking. Retrieved from https://www.unodc.org/e4j/en/organized-crime/module-3/key-issues/drug-trafficking.html.
- Researcher studies impact of drug-trafficking violence. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.google.com/amp/s/phys.org/news/2019-03-impact-drug-trafficking-violence.amp.
- History of Drug Trafficking. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.history.com/.amp/topics/crime/history-of-drug-trafficking.
- (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs38/38661/drugImpact.htm.
- (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/eu-drug-markets/2016/online/ramifications/other-impacts-on-society_en.