The struggle against Mexicos drug cartels

A vacation to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico followed the New Year of 2009. I had spent time with locals, purchased their handcrafted souvenirs, and visited monumental tourist attractions. My travel led me to believe that Mexico is a country of warm weather and beautiful sightseeing; at the time of my vacation I had been ignorant to the reality of Mexico’s stance on the global spectrum of corruption. Unbeknownst 783 miles northwest to Tijuana from Cabo, numerous drug cartels were organizing the importation of narcotics from the South and exported to countries North of Mexico. Tijuana is a city controlled by organized crime and more specifically, infiltrated by The Tijuana Cartel (Witkin and Robinson 1997:38). The Tijuana Cartel is responsible for the transportation, importation, and distribution of massive quantities of cocaine and marijuana, as well as large quantities of heroin and methamphetamine (Guzman 1993:40). Yet, the issue of Mexico’s drug trade is not specific to the notorious city, there are over seven cartels that clandestinely function throughout the state. The power of drug cartels have proven to be well connected, trained, armed, and manipulative toward the masses. Mass drug trafficking in Mexico is threatening to turn itself into a ‘Narco’ state, notably, a ‘Narco’ state is considered to be an area that has been taken over and is controlled and corrupted by drug cartels (ibid).

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The rising count of gruesome drug-related murders seems as though the government is being passively effective. This is where the supremacy of drug lords that lead the drug cartels serve as highly influential bodies; whom can often overthrow the power of authorities and government officials through bribery. This is evident over the last three decades when the Mexican Drug War originally commenced. However, the Drug War was re-initiated between the government and drug cartels when Felipe Calderon took presidency in 2006 (Campos 2010).
The nation of Mexico is facing a difficult state of affairs to meet drug trade demands that has dishonored the justice system. Countless lives have been taken since the commencement of the Mexican Drug War on either side of its borders and will only continue to overthrow the power of the government officials. This essay will analyze how the Mexican drug trade has infiltrated northern borders to the United States and Canada-while domestically placing vulnerable civilians at risk of sex trafficking in an impoverished state, resulting in violence.
The drug trade is a global black market, where the insufficiency of borders has proven to be the prime target of drug transportation. According to the Toronto Star (2009), Tijuana is home to the world’s busiest border crossing with about 300,000 people crossing the border everyday. These perimeters separate two distinct worlds divided by a militarized border in the North and a more advantageous smuggle from the South, however the movement of people and narcotics illicitly make their way past northern border patrol. The North American Free Trade agreement addresses concerns regarding insufficient borders where there is an unrestricted movement of people, goods and services between Mexico, the United States and Canada (Cottam and Otwin 2005). The inadequacy of border security, has led to the expansion of Mexican drug cartels and their control over the drug supply chain surpassing the United States to Canada. This is where the transportation, importation, and distribution of massive quantities of cocaine, marijuana, as well as large quantities of heroin and methamphetamine have primarily washed up on Canada’s West coast (Falco 1999:8). Furthermore, the growth of Mexico’s drug cartels is a question of security, where the illegal importation of illicit drugs into fast, developing westernized nations will only lead to unsafe corruption.
This mass production of drugs infiltrated by Mexico into the United States and Canada is a detriment to the globalization efforts set out by capitalist nations. These northern nations have made initiatives to expand the integration of countries in the global network of communication, transportation and trade. However, the global networking strategies of these bordering nations have negotiated an illegal trade that has created a steady flow of trafficked narcotics. The trafficking of drugs is highly motivated by the demands that exist in consumer countries such as the United States and Canada’s West Coast of British Colombia. In 2001, Mexico was the point of transit where 55 percent of cocaine entered the United States (Chabat 2002:142).
Illicit drugs cultivated in drug trade are majorly supplied by strong Colombian drug trafficking ties and become Canada and US-bound through Mexico. The narcotics used to fuel the Mexican Drug War are primary extracted from countries in South America, specifically Colombia. This is where the primary trafficked narcotic includes cocaine, in exchange for the steady drug flow heading north from South America guns, cash and prostitutes serve as collateral (Bagely 1988:72). However, the United States has created a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid to reduce the illegal drug trade, this campaign is called the War on Drugs. The approaches of The War on Drugs have undertaken tasks such as The Merida Initiative. This initiative is a security cooperation between the United States and the government of Mexico and the countries of Central America with the aim of combating the threats of drug trafficking and transnational crime (Cottam and Marenin 2005:32). Such strategies are aimed to also eliminate illegal immigrants into Canada and the United States as means to transport and distribute drugs. Other contributions to The War on Drugs involve the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), identifying the need to increase financial and migration investigations relating to the movement of illegal drugs to Mexico. The DEA states that attacking the financial infrastructure of drug cartels has to play a key role in any viable drug enforcement strategy (Toro 1999: 633).
The effects of contraband being imported past the Northern borders serves for inadequacy of borders as well as harm toward their political and economical statuses. Restricted substances that enter northern borders are consequential toward the political stance of the laws, rules and regulations set forth by government officials. The enigmatic transportation of these illegal narcotics is especially subversive and become difficult for officials to track en route. The money laundering exchange from Mexico into the United States and Canada annually generates millions of dollars as a significant contributor to their economies. In the United States, wholesale illicit drug sale earnings estimates range from $13.6 to $48.4 billion annually (ibid).
The longstanding issue of poverty in many areas of Mexico is also a contributing factor involving the illegal drug trade. Kellner and Piptone’s article “Inside Mexico’s Drug war” (2010:32) states that due to high levels of poverty within the Mexican nation and easy access across the northern borders, individuals with minimal opportunities and are economically unstable, resort to drug exchange. Poverty provides minimal opportunities for those in need of providing for their families, and as a result of Mexico’s escalating rates of poverty, people often look for the fastest alternative, often resorting to money laundering of illegal drugs. The participation of Mexican civilians in the drug war often proposes the sacrifices of their lives as well as leaving their families behind. The willingness of many residences to partake in the drug trade is also contributing to Mexico’s generation of fraudulent currency, where according to Chabat (2002: 137) as of 2009, sat between $6-$15 billion annually representing 3 percent of Mexico’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As the growth of these numbers amplifies due to organized drug crime, the public continues to pursue the implementation of justice and change by government officials.
Within Mexico’s impoverished state, the vulnerability of Mexican women and children are at risk with the pursuit of innocence set forth by drug lords. The involvement of women in drug trafficking in recent years has expanded dramatically. Campbell (2008:251) explains that women within Mexican society that are often associated with the drug cartels are typically led to incarceration at various ages; this also leads to high extortion, torture and rape. Sex trafficking has become more common as a part of the drug war where most often women and girls are pimped by leaders of drug cartels and sent to brothels throughout Mexico (Castillo, Gomez and Delgado 1999: 394). The demands within the brothels instill fear within these trafficked women, without compliance they jeopardize seeing their families again or even their lives. Specifically in Tijuana, Mexico where the infiltration of black market drugs originates within Central America, women are used as drug smugglers and prostitutes to generate another source of monetary income.
Moreover, Rojas (2008:1082) argues that children have also become prime targets involving the illegal exchange of drugs. Drug lords often seek them out as a symbol of inexperience and uncontroversial tactic when crossing borders, much of the time they too have been induced by drugs to obey drug lord commands. Many children involved in the drug trade are without any family due to the violent nature of the trade or come from families below the poverty line. In 2009 alone, 10,000 children were orphaned due to the Mexican Drug War (ibid). With initiatives to keep the adolescents off of the streets, President Felipe Calderón recently opened 75 new universities and 330 drug rehabilitation centers to curb the impoverishment and gang violence (Corchado 2009: 21).
The violent nature of the Mexican Drug War has led to high rates of drug violence within Mexico. This is further examined by Newman (2009:23), in which he explains that the drug cartels imported and exported out of Tijuana make their way toward the U.S border city of Ciudad Juárez, which now has the distinction of being the most violent in Mexico. Due to organized crime, border violence includes 90% of drug related killings (ibid). The competition of cartels trying to out due each other in savagery is discussed in Hoar’s article “Mexican violence, Gun Controls” (2009:42) where bodies are mutilated, and heads are tossed on busy streets.
The struggle for human rights and progression away from drug violence is an unpredictable issue; the direction in which it is headed is at a high rate of inconsistency. Violent acts of decapitation, torture and rape are common tactics amongst drug lords. Drug lords have become so powerful that some of their leaders, even when in prison, can continue their operations from the inside. Anderson (2007:18) explains that a drug kingpin can order the murder of rival cartel members on the street, along with others perceived as standing in the way of their lucrative enterprises. Those killed have included officials, judges and journalists whose writings offended the cartels (ibid). As a terror tactic, beheadings have become a favored form of execution. The power of organized crime such as drug cartels, easily preside over the violence. According to Campos (2010: 402), more than 34,000 people have died in drug-related violence during the four years that President Felipe Calderon has been in power and within the last year there were 15, 273 deaths.
Many civilians are too often paying the price of Mexico’s drug war with their liberty and livelihood at the hands of drug cartel hit men. High rates of violence are a result of suppressed human rights with many implications facing Mexican authorities and residences. Communities often too cannot trust those in a position of power such as police, this is due to the corruption within the police force. Corruption within Mexican law enforcement institutions is a relentless struggle of organized crime growing and spreading to new territories. More specifically, numerous drug cartels propose bribes to officers for their co-operation in return. The co-operation of these officers under cartel command often include violent acts against civilians as well as tourists and government officials, ultimately creating an elite group of hit men (Bailey and Paras 2006: 78). Officers enticed by this lucrative organization are often regularly paid poorly and would rather succumb to the influence of Mexico’s deep-pocketed drug traffickers and gangs. This law enforcement dishonesty is becoming a significant challenge confronting democratic governability and defeating the purpose of ending the Mexican Drug War. Although violence between drug cartels had been occurring for at least three decades, the Mexican government had held a generally passive stance regarding cartel violence. Now, President Felipe Calderón has continued to escalate his anti-drug campaign, there are now about 45,000 troops involved along with state and federal police forces. (Felson 2009:7)
In conclusion, the Mexican drug trade is a ruthless battlefield in which many aspects reflect the hardships and corruption within Mexican society, and its effects on its neighboring countries. The efforts set out by President Felipe Calderon to end the drug war in Mexico is seeing inadequate results, inevitably progressing toward a ‘Narco’ state status. Presently, the development of Mexico is at risk with plummeting death tolls of civilians, corruption of law enforcement and drug money stabilizing the country’s GDP. The Mexican Drug War is often presented publicly as a government issue that will evaporate overtime with the right prime leadership. However, the cause of the battle on drugs in the southern-most part of North America is much more than the government’s burden. The powers of drug cartels seem to be unstoppable and over taking the Mexico’s livelihood all together and are now nothing short of entrenched in supremacy. The infiltration of northern borders to the United States and Canada by the Mexican drug trade has domestically placed vulnerable civilians at risk of sex trafficking in an impoverished state, resulting in violence.

Challenges to Stopping Mexican Drug Cartels

Absolute poverty is one of the worst situations to be in, yet many people are experiencing it all over the world and the worst part about this is that the poverty is usually caused by the greed of others. Under poverty many families feel hopeless, they will nearly do about anything to make sure their families can receive basic human needs such as food, water, and shelter. Unfortunately, Mexico knows poverty too well, according to The Huffington Post there are 55.3 million in Mexico living in poverty (Buitre 2016). It’s not only the poverty that affects these children in Mexico, but also the violence. Mexico is now known as one of the main drug trafficking countries in the world, and with this title comes a lot of violence. This violence is happening due to drug cartels in Mexico and is only getting worse, according to the Los Angeles Times, last year alone nearly 20,792 homicides took place due to drug cartels, this is about a 22% increase from homicides that happened in 2015. (Linthicum 2017). Drug Cartels in Mexico take advantage of all the injustices that are happening in Mexico. Poverty in Mexico makes it extremely easy for the Cartels to manipulate people. Lack of government structure and corruption within the government makes it extremely easy for cartels to do crimes without any punishment. Then finally lack of education in the youth makes it extremely easy to recruit loyal Drug Cartel members from a young age. Many people believe harsh military action is the main way to stop drug cartels completely, but in fact, that solution only throws more fuel on the fire. If a full out military war on Drug Cartels were to take place many ordinary innocent citizens would be affected, war should only be use if all else fails. Yet, there is a simpler and much more peaceful way of stopping the Drug Cartels and that is getting rid of the core problems in Mexico that make Drug Cartels successful in the first place. Therefore, the best way to weaken the dominance of Mexican Drug Cartels would be to eliminate the injustices of government dishonesty, lack of opportunity for the youth, and poverty in Mexico.

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One factor that drives Mexican Drug Cartels to be successful is the amount of corruption in the government its self. Through many Mexican and American news media it may look like the government is against drug cartels, but this is not always the case. There have been links showing that some Mexican drug cartels supply the current President Enrique Peña Nieto with bribe money. According to Breitbrat, “Last year, Breitbart Texas reported on an investigation that revealed that a series of shell companies had been used by members of the Juarez cartel to funnel funds into Peña Nieto’s 2012 election. The investigation was carried out by Mexican award-winning journalist Carmen Aristegui and her team; the subsequent scandal became known as Monexgate for the cash cards that were given out during Peña Nieto’s campaign. Those journalists have been under criticism by the Mexican government after discovering the cartel finance link.” (Ortiz and Darby 2017). Drug cartels help politicians get into power and in return expect them to help them out with their business. Under President Nieto, this is exactly what is happening, though he ran his campaign on the promise to get rid of Drug Cartels his actions are not supporting this since drug cartels are only getting more powerful as time goes on. Another suspicious thing that has occurred during President Nieto’s presidency is the release of top drug cartel members from Mexican Prisons, according to Breitbrat, under his power many top drug cartel members have been released from prison well before their full sentence has been served (Ortiz and Darby 2017). Another government program that is severely corrupt in Mexico is the police themselves, A study done by Vice News showed that “63 percent of Mexicans have little or no trust in their municipal police force while 66 percent view them as corrupt” (Imison 2016). There have been many examples hinting that most the police in Mexico actually work for the drug cartels through bribes. Police in Mexico don’t get paid much at all for their work most of them struggling to provide for their families, this makes bribes from the drug cartels so much more appealing. A Mexican government official was interviewed by Vice News and said, “we have no idea who they can trust,” she said. “Sometimes, we fear the local police more than we fear the cartels.” (Imison 2016). This causes people in Mexico to have a lack of trust in the government, so when cartels threaten their way of life they feel as if they have no one to turn too, which gives the cartels much more power. For example, let’s say a small business owner of a café in Mexico has a Cartel come up to them asking for a percentage of their profits for being on their “turf”, what are they supposed to do? If they report the problem to the police they don’t know if the police have ties with that cartel, and if they are found for being telling on the cartels the consequences are horrible. Cartels are known for hanging these people and their family’s bodies off bridges and making an example out of them to the whole town. Therefore, many people don’t even think about challenging the cartels. The government of countries should be expected to protect their own people from threats like drug cartels, but in Mexico the drug cartels and the government discreetly work together which leave the people of Mexico feeling like they have no one in their corner when it comes to problems with the Cartels.

The economy in Mexico is quite poor, according to the Business Insider at the end of 2014 nearly the bottom 20% of Mexicans, nearly 25 million people, were worth an average of 80 dollars (Woody). These people are willing to do anything to make more money to have basic needs for their families. Drug Cartels in Mexico know that these people are desperate and totally take advantage of it. According too Wired News killers hired by the drug cartels can make up to $390-$468 every two weeks, while an average job in Mexico will pay about $298 a month (Beckhusen 2013). People in Mexico are willing to work for the drug cartels for not too much money just to support their families and end up doing the dirty work like murder. Many poor people in Mexico to are untraceable, according to Brogen Magazine, “Twelve million Mexicans work in the black market and do not have access to social security, which makes them vulnerable to exploitation.” (D’Amore 2016). Many of these people being untraceable are due to the lack of government structure. If a local officer was to find out about someone working in the black market without a social security, all it takes is a little bribe money to keep these officers silent. These people are also used by the drug cartels as well to carry out their crimes because they are very hard for officials too track.

Opportunity for the youth in Mexico are very limited, many lower-class children in Mexico grow up with a sense of hopelessness. They also grow up with a lack of education, many children in the poorest parts of Mexico don’t even access to a state school. The public schools in Mexico are poorly financed through the government and many of them barely have enough to afford basic utilities for a school to properly run, according to the Brogen Project “48 percent of state schools have no access to sewage, 31 percent have no drinking water, 12.8 percent have no bathrooms or toilets and 11.2 percent have no access to electricity.” (Rolz 2016). When public schools are so poorly funded by the government many students do not get the proper educational environment that is needed. Many teachers in the Mexican school system are also not paid enough to have the motivation to care about their jobs and are poorly watched over. A study done by Borgen Magazine showed that in Mexico 13% of the teachers in the state schooling system never even show up to work, and 60% of the school’s report that their teachers are habitually absent, so for children in Mexico having no instructor in class is quite common (Perez 2016). This is most likely the reason why in Mexico children score much lower on multiple academic tests than in other countries. Therefore, the lack of commitment of education performed by these state programs leaves many kids dropping out of school at an early age with a lack of basic skills like math, reading and writing. This leaves an abundance of children and teenagers looking for a job with low amounts of skill. Unfortunately for these children and teenagers many of these low-skilled labor jobs pay very poorly in Mexico, paying barely enough to afford basic needs. This is when Drug Cartels come into play, these children and teenagers are in an ideal situation for becoming a child soldier for the Drug Cartels. These children are desperate to get out of the current situation they are in, so they do not require that much pay. The poorly educated children are also extremely easy to manipulate, according to The Fix, “The kids are often manipulated into joining the cartels, then given basic weapons instruction at training camps in remote areas. They are then put into cells led by experienced cartel soldiers, who have some prior training with the military or police.” (Ackerman 2013). These children are not a scarce resource to these Cartels, many of them are used in suicide like missions to ambush authorities, barely even knowing how to use a gun properly (Ackerman 2013). To the Cartels these child soldiers are like the low bearing fruit on a tree, they are easy to pick and in Mexico there is an abundance of these potential child soldiers. The Cartels have no value for these child’s lives and treat them as if they are totally worthless which is absolutely sickening.

There are many ways of fixing these injustices that Drug Cartels take advantage of and if they are fixed correctly they could dramatically decrease the amount of authority Drug Cartels have in Mexico. If schools in Mexico could be regulated more and better equipped financially so they could afford electricity, sewage, running water and better pay towards their teacher’s, teenagers would be coming out of school more educated which would cause them to feel less hopeless about their futures. This would minimize the number of teenagers and children joining the cartels because they could get jobs that require an educational background that pay better than what the Cartels pay. Another fixable problem is the corruption in the Mexican government, if there were to be more investigations conducted looking at the link between Drug Cartels and the Government there would be much less corruption. Mexican officials that are corrupt would either be found or less willing to make deals with the Cartels in the fear of getting caught. The last fixable problem is the overwhelming amount of poverty in Mexico, if there could be more economic reforms made to help people climb above the poverty line, many more people would be more optimistic about their futures and would not feel the need to do business or work with the Drug Cartels. Wealth distribution is also very uneven in Mexico with economic reforms on this issue wealth distribution would become more centered throughout the country. If all these solutions were to be carried out in Mexico, the Drug Cartels would essentially be no longer able to function in Mexico.

Drug cartels are morally wrong and need to be stopped, they simply take advantage of the injustices that happen in Mexico. If these injustices that are taking place in Mexico are too be minimized much of the overbearing power of the Cartels would be saturated. In Mexico when child soldiers are being put on suicide missions to fight against local authorities there is a clear association of human rights being violated. To take advantage of innocent less fortunate children and to put their lives at extreme danger just for one’s own benefit is absolutely unacceptable. It is a clear violation of respect for human life and when human life is being abused like this it shouldn’t be just Mexico’s problem, but everybody’s concern to fix it. Though all these injustices leading to the Drug Cartels being so successful in Mexico are fixable, they are not an easy fix and will take time. Mexico is a beautiful country with many amazing people living in it, it should be every country concern to not let Drug Cartels ruin the country with violence and greed. Drug Cartels are becoming too large of a force in Mexico and are threatening the country including all the amazing people living in it, this problem simply needs to be stopped before it becomes too late.

Works cited

Ackerman, Macaroon. “Drug Cartels Recruit Child Soldiers.” The Fix. N.p., 28 Mar. 2013. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

Beckhusen, Robert. “How Mexico’s Drug Cartels Recruit Child Soldiers as Young as 11.” Conde Nast Digital, 28 Mar. 2013. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

Buitre, Alberto. “Corruption And Poverty In Mexico.” The Huffington Post., 29 Aug. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

D’Amore, Joe. “Drugs And Poverty In Mexico Are Intertwined.” Borgen. Borgen Magazine, 25 Apr. 2016. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

Ildefonso Ortiz and Brandon Darby1 Feb 20170. “U.S. Media Ignore Mexican President’s Ties to Drug Cartels.” Breitbart. Breitbrat, 02 Feb. 2017. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Imison, Paul. “Mexico’s Efforts to Tackle Police Corruption Keep Failing.” VICE News. Vice News, 21 Mar. 2016. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

Linthicum, Kate. “More and more people are being murdered in Mexico – and once more drug cartels are to blame.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 3 Mar. 2017. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Perez, Emiliano. “The State of Education in Mexico.” Borgen. Borgen Magazine, 06 Dec. 2016. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

Rolz, Isabella. “Mexico’s Poverty Rate Increases.” The Borgen Project. The Borgen Project, 06 Dec. 2016. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

Woody, Christopher. “Mexico’s wage crisis is so bad ‘that it violates what’s stipulated in the Constitution'” Business Insider. Business Insider, 02 Aug. 2015. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

Effectiveness of Drug Abuse and Resistance Education

This paper explores the D.A.R.E. program and argues how D.A.R.E. can be effective and how it cannot be effective.  An overview and history of the program is given and then research and studies are referenced for and against the program.
Drug Abuse and Resistance Education, better known as D.A.R.E., has been used throughout schools for a very long time.  The question is, does it work?  Well, that depends on who one would ask.  If one asked a law enforcement agent, they would most likely give an answer like, yes of course it works.  But if one asked a parent or a teenager, they will most likely give a response like, no it’s a waste of time.  There is evidence supporting both arguments, but in the end, the research will show that, unfortunately, D.A.R.E. does not work.

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The D.A.R.E. curriculum originally started in the 1980s and has since been adapted and changed and is still currently going on in schools.  The program has been designed for 5th and 6th graders to prevent them from trying substances in middle school (Vincus, Ringwalt, Harris, Shamblen, 2010, p. 39).  The program has then been adapted again for K-12th grade.  This is the time, experts believe that children will be faced with making decisions regarding substances, this program teaches these children to resist peer pressure and ways to practice refusal techniques (Vincus, Ringwalt, Harris, Shamblen, 2010, p. 39).   The original D.A.R.E. curriculum had 17 lessons and now it is reduced to 9 lessons, and a graduation ceremony has been added (Vincus, Ringwalt, Harris, Shamblen, 2010, p. 39).
The D.A.R.E Program is taught by local police officers in uniform usually once a week for 50 minutes or less (Vincus, Ringwalt, Harris, Shamblen, 2010, p. 39).   “All D.A.R.E officers receive 80 hours of in-person training before being certified to teach the curriculum.  Their training includes curriculum instruction, teaching strategies, communication skills, classroom management, adolescent development, drug information, and opportunities to practice various lessons” (Vincus, Ringwalt, Harris, Shamblen, 2010, p. 39).  So as one can see, a lot of work, money, and effort goes into training these police officers to be teachers.
A study was done that comprised 17 schools and in each school, researchers compared 5th grade students who did not receive D.A.R.E to students who did receive D.A.R.E. (Vincus, Ringwalt, Harris, Shamblen, 2010, p. 43).  Researchers found that students who voluntarily left the study were 1.5 times more likely to report use of alcohol and were 2.9 times more likely to have ever tried marijuana (Vincus, Ringwalt, Harris, Shamblen, 2010, p. 43).  This finding proves that in this specific study, students who stayed with the program had a better chance of not abusing alcohol and drugs.  The study also found that students who dropped out of the study were older than those who remained (Vincus, Ringwalt, Harris, Shamblen, 2010, p. 43).  Students were also less likely to be absent on the days when they received D.A.R.E than on other weekdays (Vincus, Ringwalt, Harris, Shamblen, 2010, p. 43).
In relation to parents’ perceptions of the D.A.R.E program, a study found that 6 out of 10 parents reported their awareness of problems related to alcohol and tobacco and other drug use increased because of the program (Lucas, 2008, p. 107).  Another important aspect of the D.A.R.E program is establishing communication between children and parents about the risks of drugs.  “Nearly 8 out of 10 (79.4%) parents indicated that they had increased discussion about drug use with their children as a result of that child’s participation in the DARE program” (Lucas 2008, pg. 108).  Also, parents with children participating in the D.A.R.E. program had a more positive perception of police officers (50.5%) (Lucas, 2008, p. 109).
On its surface, D.A.R.E may seem like it works and has some positive benefits, but like an iceberg, there is still the part below the surface.  The first D.A.R.E program had some immediate effects of knowledge of drugs, social skills, and attitudes towards the police, however, these effects disappear within 1-2 years (Rosenbaum, 2007, p. 816).  Also, the effect of D.A.R.E on drug use behaviors is very rare and when found, often turn out to be very small.  In fact, a longitudinal study found an increase in drug use in suburban communities (Rosenbaum, 2007, p. 816).  People may not know, but the D.A.R.E program has a political agenda hidden inside it.  The Department of Justice went on to conduct a national assessment of D.A.R.E. to show its effectiveness and the results were less than pleasing (Rosenbaum, 2007, p. 817).  The Research Triangle Institute, which is federally funded, found that although D.A.R.E is popular with schools and police departments, it does not prevent drug use (Rosenbaum, 2007, p. 817).  Ironically the funding agency for the Research Triangle Institute decided these findings were not worthy of publication, but the findings were later produced in a peer-reviewed journal (Rosenbaum, 2007, p. 817).  After that study was conducted, the American government questioned any negative research that accused the effectiveness of D.A.R.E., of course, they endorsed positive studies supporting D.A.R.E. though (Rosenbaum, 2007, p. 817).  The Department of Justice and the Department of Education and members of Congress used $10 million a year to fund D.A.R.E for most of the 1990s (Rosenbaum, 2007, p. 817).  More findings came out from another longitudinal study in 1999 after efforts were made to improve D.A.R.E, again showed no long-term effects for the program.  The president of the D.A.R.E organization referred to the study as “voodoo science” in the Washington Post in 2001 (Rosenbaum, 2007, p. 817).  Also in 2001 “…an expert panel created by the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools listed 9 “exemplary” and 33 “promising” programs that would be given priority for SDFSCA funds.  D.A.R.E did not make either list” (Rosenbaum, 2007, p. 817).  Dennis P. Rosenbaum, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, says that we can no longer afford to endorse programs that are known to be ineffective.
The D.A.R.E program costs Americans a lot of money every year to run, during the Bush administration $500 million was spent to implement such programs because of the “war on drugs” was such a big issue during that time (Kochis, 2001).  A study was done in a southern New Jersey township, out of 100 students sampled, only 12 criminal offenses were recorded, but 11 of the 12 criminal offenses were committed by male youths in the experimental group which had experienced D.A.R.E. (Kochis, 2001).  Another study was done which measured the parent’s perceptions of the D.A.R.E. program.  General responses from parents yielded a result that the D.A.R.E program did not have much impact on their children academically (Lucas, 2008, p. 106).  About 64.7% of parents said they saw “little or no change” in their child’s grades in school.  66.7% also said they saw “little or no change” in their children’s study habits (Lucas, 2008, p. 106).  There was also a moderate decline from 2001 to 2007 in the odds of schools providing D.A.R.E because of all the studies going on at that time testing its effectiveness (Kumar, O’Malley, Johnston, Laetz, 2013, p. 586).
Another problem with the D.A.R.E program is the lack of information on prescription drug abuse.  Prescription drug abuse is a very real and relevant problem that the D.A.R.E program should be teaching.  Prescription drug abuse is a serious public health issue, it is increasing in magnitude in the United States among young people (Morris, Welch Cline, Weiler, Broadway, 2005, p. 34).  13.7% of youth ages 12-17, which is within the age range of D.A.R.E. have abused prescription drugs and each year close to half of new prescription drug abusers are under the age of 18 (Morris, Welch Cline, Weiler, Broadway, 2005, p. 34).  In fact, a study concluded that much, if not most of what people learn about prescription drug abuse comes from school health classes (Morris, Welch Cline, Weiler, Broadway, 2005, p. 34).  D.A.R.E contains few objectives and doesn’t offer enough content relating to prescription drugs, it also doesn’t teach the proper medical use of prescription drugs.  It doesn’t even mention in its curriculum that prescription drugs can even be abused (Morris, Welch Cline, Weiler, Broadway, 2005, p. 39-41).  Especially in the modules for elementary and middle schools, prescription drugs and concepts are barely addressed (Morris, Welch Cline, Weiler, Broadway, 2005, p. 43).
On the outside, D.A.R.E may look like the best school-based drug prevention program.  And some people argue that it is, however, those people are usually politicians,  members of the government, and congress because they fund it (Rosenbaum, 2007, p. 817).  But the evidence doesn’t lie, D.A.R.E does not look good on paper.  Many studies have been done since the 1980s, proving the programs ineffectiveness.  The government has been dumping millions of dollars into a program that should have literally been dumped (Kochis, 2001).  But instead, when certain negative findings came out, departments tried to improve D.A.R.E. even though it was beyond repair.  (Rosenbaum, 2007, p. 818).  For a program that doesn’t work, it sure does take a lot of effort from police to maintain.  Instead of having the police force out patrolling, protecting, and serving, they’re being sent to 80 hours of in person training to be certified in teaching this useless program (Vincus, Ringwalt, Harris, Shamblen, 2010, p. 39).  It has been proven time and time again that even if the information sticks in the heads of the children, it phases out rather quickly as they grow up.  This is proven in the finding that students who dropped out of the study were older than those who remained (Vincus, Ringwalt, Harris, Shamblen, 2010, p. 43).  Older kids are simply not interested and younger kids do not hold onto the information long enough for it to be effective.  The gap on prescription drug abuse in the D.A.R.E. program proves that the program is biased.  Prescription drugs are legal in the United States, big pharmaceutical companies want to make money, so the government doesn’t implement prescription drug abuse in the D.A.R.E program.  While marijuana is illegal, the government or pharmaceutical companies can’t make any money off of it, so this becomes the “gateway drug” while statistics show that more and more prescription drug abusers are under the age of 18 (Morris, Welch Cline, Weiler, Broadway, 2005, p. 34).  The D.A.R.E program has run its course, its fallen into numerous potholes and has run out of gas time and time again, yet it still gets refueled and continues driving.  D.A.R.E. does not work and it’s about time it meets its fate it has been escaping for years.
Kumar, R., O’Malley, P. M., Johnston, L. D., & Laetz, V. B. (2013). Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use Prevention Programs in U.S. Schools: A Descriptive Summary. Prevention Science, 14(6), 581-592. doi:10.1007/s11121-012-0340-zKochis, D. S. (1995). The effectiveness of Project DARE: Does it work?. Journal Of Alcohol & Drug Education, 40(2), 40.Lucas, W. (2008). Parents’ Perceptions of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program (DARE). Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, 17(4), 99-114. doi: 10.1080/15470650802292905Morris, M. C., Cline, R. J., Weiler, R. M., & Broadway, S. C. (2005). Prescription Drug Abuse    Information In D.A.R.E. Journal of Drug Education, 36(1), 33-45. doi:10.2190/at0p-ngt8-2kwy-uy48Rosenbaum, D. P. (2007). Just Say No To D.a.r.e. Criminology & Public Policy, 6(4), 815-824.   doi:10.1111/j.1745-9133.2007.00474.xVincus, A. A., Ringwalt, C., Harris, M. S., & Shamblen, S. R. (2010). A Short-Term, Quasi-        Experimental Evaluation of D.A.R.E.’s Revised Elementary School Curriculum. Journal of Drug Education, 40(1), 37-49. doi:10.2190/de.40.1.c

Causes of Drug Trafficking and Strategies for Reduction

Experts have been laying out options for years and it seems as if drugs still flow all over the world on a consistent and steady pace leading to a national and global security threat. This research paper will focus on the best methods for reducing the effectiveness of transnational criminal organizations and their efforts to traffic narcotics with analysis on how to implement those methods. One option proposed is legalizing these dangerous illicit drugs. We could also engage in international information sharing with regards to financial intelligence in order to thwart threat finance. To reduce the effectiveness of transnational criminal organizations (TCO’s), the United States Government needs to interdict drug transportation routes. This will help prevent drug trafficking organizations from infecting and spreading throughout America and nations abroad. This is the best and most effective long-term solution to drowning out these organizations and preventing them from exploiting the communities they operate and thrive in forever.

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Drug trafficking and distribution are two felonious activities that are carried out by organized crime affiliations. Nearly every drug transaction that takes place in the world is the result of drug trafficking and distribution stemming from some type of transnational organized crime organization. Estimated profits from some of these organizations, such as the Colombian Medellin Cartel of the 1980’s and 1990’s, range anywhere from tens of billions to hundreds of billions of dollars per year. According to the FBI (2016), “The vast sums of money and harsh violence involved can compromise legitimate economies and have a direct impact on governments through the corruption of public officials” (para.1). If these organizations can rake in this much money every year, how do we stop them? What’s the best course of action to take?
I believe the reason this issue has become a topic of conversation again is due to the deadly opioid epidemic plaguing the United States. The number of overdose related deaths has steadily increased since 2012. Now people are starting to question where the drugs are coming from and how they are getting into the hands of Americans. To me, the answer is simple; transnational organized crime is to blame. These crime organizations understand the demand for illicit drugs and make a hefty profit smuggling them around the world and distributing. From the Italian Mob of the 1950’s to Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel in the 1970’s, these crime organizations have been profiting off of selling illegal drugs to people for decades. It is a global business that affects almost every country in the world.
Drug trafficking in the United States creates a huge black market industry. It is estimated that $200-$750 billion per year is spent on these illegal substances, with the current decade seeing the largest per person drug usage per year in American history (Adinolfi, 2013). According to the United States Sentencing Commission (2013), “Over 30 percent of all offenses in 2013 were related to drug trafficking, and 22,215 cases of drug trafficking were reported to the USSC in the 2013 fiscal year” (para. 3). It is believed that most drug traffickers belong to an organized crime enterprise and get their product into the United States along the 2,000 mile border with Mexico.
border with Mexico is not the most secure border on Earth and there are
numerous soft spots that allow traffickers to smuggle their product into the
United States illegally. Millions of trucks cross the border into the United
States each and every year from Mexico. It is impossible for the authorities to
thoroughly check each and every one of those trucks. Traffickers also have
marine containers or cargo containers that they use at their disposal. As well
as the sea and land, these organizations also sneak their drugs into the United
States through the air. “Smugglers use a vast number of both air and sea
trafficking routes to transport cocaine from South America to the United
States. The most commonly travelled routes are through the Windward Passage
between Cuba and Haiti, through the Yucatan Channel between Mexico and Cuba,
and through the Mona Passage, bordered by the Dominican Republic and Puerto
Rico” (America’s Habit, 1986). It’s clearly a very sophisticated operation with
financial backing. With all the technology the United States has at its
disposal (X-ray machines, drug sniffing dogs, metal detectors, body scanners,
etc), it seems almost impossible to get anything past our borders we did not
want to cross, but it does happen more frequently than it should.
to Quinones (2017) “A lot of heroin
trafficking happens a kilo or two at a time. Other ranchers told me they used
hollow hammers, toothpaste tubes, a woman’s hair, backpacks or the carburetor
of a truck. No wall stops that kind of trafficking” (para. 9). We can’t expect
our customs agents to open toothpaste tubes and dismantle cars on the spot for
every vehicle that tries to cross into the United States. It’s just not a plausible
solution. Granted, the amounts being smuggled in are smaller, they have become
more frequent, which is just as dangerous. There needs to be a solution to stop
this madness from happening, not only in the United States, but across the
clear to see from the recent trends of drug abuse in the United States that
this problem is not going away any time soon and requires some type of
immediate action to remedy the situation. The problem lies with transnational
organized crime enterprises that continuously and successfully traffic narcotics
around the world for huge profits. There is a strong need to impede these
illegal operations. Three of the top options available that could solve that
problem are legalization of drugs, information sharing with regards to threat
financing by using financial intelligence and finally, enhancing border
security and route interdiction.
drugs in the United States is a solution that people believe will solve
America’s drug problem. From a neutral point of view, it has its benefits and
its drawbacks. Marijuana has essentially become “legal” in the United States in
the sense that it has been decriminalized in many states and approved for
recreational use. Each state has separate rules and statutes for marijuana
offenses, but the way things are heading it looks as if marijuana is on its way
to becoming a legalized drug in the United States. There are even medical
marijuana cards that allow people to smoke marijuana for medical purposes, such
as to help with the effects of chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer.
Of course, there are still rules and laws that prevent operating vehicles while
under the influence of marijuana, just like alcohol, because it is still a
mind-altering substance that can impair your ability to operate a vehicle or
heavy machinery in a safe manner. By having the same restrictions or laws on
marijuana that we have on alcohol, experts believe that the United States could
profit from the taxes put on legalizing marijuana, thus taking away money from
some of these organized crime enterprises that traffic and distribute marijuana
in the United States. There have been studies that show an overdose from
marijuana is extremely unlikely and has not ever been documented in the
academic world. According to Blaszczak-Boxe (2014), “The risk of a
person suffering a fatal overdose from marijuana is “extremely
small,” and there are no reports of fatal overdoses in the scientific
literature, according to the review” (para.6). The United States could control
the distribution and sale of marijuana which would essentially take the money
away from illegal drug trafficking organizations.
The negative aspect of
legalizing marijuana is that it is considered a gateway drug and more often
than not, young kids start out smoking marijuana at a young age and move on to
other more harsh drugs (heroin, cocaine, prescription pills, etc.). A study
found that “regular cannabis users also double their risk of experiencing
psychotic symptoms and disorders such as disordered thinking, hallucinations
and delusions” (Blaszczak-Boxe, 2014,
para.9). That seems like a significant problem that could be detrimental to the
youth of the country if it were to be fully legalized.
Some of these other drugs such as heroin, cocaine or prescription pills pose a little bit of a tougher problem compared to marijuana. Let’s start with some positives of legalizing these other types of drugs. Some people make the argument that if we legalize all of these drugs it will cripple the organized crime stranglehold on the drug trafficking market. If TCO’s can’t traffic drugs, because drugs are legal, and make money, then they will fall apart and disappear. Other sources believe the United States can make money from the legalization and taxation of these types of drugs. If the United States were to control and regulate these classes of drugs, then there would be no “black market” for them, which would take business and money away from transnational organized crime enterprises. Some researchers also argue that some of these people currently incarcerated need medical and psychiatric care and should not be incarcerated. The costs of keeping people incarcerated is exorbitant and it comes out of the taxpayers’ pockets. According to Adinolfi (2013), “About 330,000 of the U.S.’s 1.6 million prison inmates in 2012 were doing time for drug offenses, at an average annual cost of $25,000 per inmate — a total of $8.2 billion” (para.5). So, $8.2 billion dollars per year is being spent to house inmates for drug related offenses. The argument is that $8.2 billion dollars could be going back into the economy as opposed to housing people for these types of drug related offenses. Building even further off of that, some experts believe the estimated yearly tax receipts from legalizing drugs could amount to about $8.7 billion (Adinolfi, 2013). Roughly, a total of $17 billion dollars could be generated from legalization and cutting down on incarceration costs as a result of this legalization process. That does sound awfully nice on paper, but when there are pros there are also cons to every argument.
Heroin, cocaine (crack and powdered), methamphetamine and prescription
pills (Oxycodone, OxyContin) account for five of the top six trafficked drugs
into the United States. That means that organized crime makes a lot of money
from these drugs. When governments try to get in the way of them making money,
they get angry and retaliate. The problem not only lies with
the dangers of drug trafficking and drug use, but rather with the violence
associated with these drugs and crime organizations. For example, “in 1975, the
Colombian police seized 600 kilos of cocaine from a plane destined for the
United States. Colombian drug traffickers retaliated by killing 40 people
during one weekend in what became known as the Medellin Massacre. The event
triggered years of violence that led to assassinations, kidnappings and raids
all over Colombia” (, 2017, para. 9). According to Felbab-Brown
(2012), “Organized crime groups who stand to be
displaced from the drug trade by legalization can hardly be expected to take
the change lying down. Rather, they may intensify their violent power struggles
over remaining illegal economies, such as the smuggling of other contraband or
migrants, prostitution, extortion, and kidnapping” (para. 12). This is a major
drawback experts bring up when legalization talks arise. By affecting organized
crime revenue streams with legalization they could react by being more violent
and cause bigger problems by getting involved with other violent illegal
activities previously mentioned.
Since 2012 there have been steady increases on the amounts of these drugs
entering the country illegally. Not only do these drugs enter the country
illegally, but they are highly addictive and threaten the well-being of our youth.
There has been a steady increase of overdose deaths from these drugs (opioids
and heroin in particular) since 2002. The National Institute on Drug Abuse
(2017) reports that overdose deaths from heroin and illicit opioid-based drugs
increased by six times from 2002 to 2015. The rates at which people are
overdosing and dying is alarming at best. The solution of legalization seems
less and less attractive the more you look at the rising numbers of overdose
deaths, which are disturbing.
Threat finance is a term that is not very well-known to the public.
According to Boyle (2012), “Threat finance encompasses the means and methods
used by organizations to finance illicit operations and activities that pose a
threat to U.S. national security.” These criminal enterprises use a myriad of
illegal methods to fund their operations such as money-laundering (underlying
method of threat finance), extortion, fraud, kidnapping, tax evasion or shell
organizations. Employing these methods is essential for continuing their
operations without detection from governmental authorities. This
process creates the appearance that large amounts of money obtained from
serious crimes, such as drug trafficking or terrorist activity, originated from
a legitimate source, which makes it difficult to track
and thwart (Spiro, 2017). Financing for these transnational organized crime
(TOC) enterprises is required for safe haven, paying bribes, recruitment,
operational expenses (materials and overhead), payment of operatives and good
will contributions (donations) (Boyle, 2012). A perfect example of using threat
finance to enhance his operation is Pablo Escobar. Donations and good will,
provided by Escobar, proved to be useful throughout his reign in Colombia.
Escobar built communities and soccer fields with his own capital in order to
gain the loyalty of the people. The people looked at Escobar as if he was their
family and would even tip him off if raids were coming or any type of police
were around. Escobar successfully used good will in return for information from
people all over Colombia.
The only real way to deter or stop threat finance from jeopardizing
global stability is something called financial intelligence. Basically,
financial intelligence is just the methods used by the U.S. government and
international authorities to discover these financial threats and deter or stop
them permanently. It’s not as easy as it sounds due to the sophistication and
integration of global financial systems. Two methods of financial intelligence
used to disrupt these organizations’ financial operations is the Anti-Money
Laundering (AML) and Counter Threat Finance (CTF) policies and regulations. The
U.S. government has developed many of these policies in order to
enhance transparency and by requiring financial services providers to collect,
maintain and report information that supports law enforcement investigations
and helps to deter illicit financing (Spiro, 2017). These
policies are aimed at permanently disrupting financial operations, which would
interrupt transnational criminal activity as a collateral effect (Boyle, 2012).
These policies are a way to combat threat finance used by these
transnational organized crime enterprises. However, in the world today there is
an increasing integration of the global financial system due to the lower
barriers to trade and movement of capital. Globalization has led to financial
dealings all over the world. International commerce and trade has become a
common occurrence and does not justify an inquiry if a large sum of money is
transferred or received through international means. Technological innovations have
also made it easier to launder money while at the same time increasing the
difficulty of detecting and stopping illicit operations by law enforcement and
federal agencies (Spiro, 2017). The evolution of technology and technological
advancements in combination with a multitude of tactics (money laundering,
shell companies, online gambling, counterfeiting, etc.) makes it increasingly
more difficult for these federal agencies to have a major effect on threat
finance. Preventing drug traffickers from gaining capital or having access to
that capital is a pliable option, but much easier in ideology and theory than
in practice.
Border security is one of the most widely discussed topics going on in
the United States today. It’s also one of the most controversial issues. It is
estimated that 70-90% of illegal drugs enter the United States along the
2000-mile border with Mexico (Snow, 2013, p.348). On the face of it, this may
seem like a domestic security threat, but it does have strong indirect national
security implications. “The deleterious effect of drug usage on Americans, and
thus American society, and the political devastation to other countries
(especially but not limited to Mexico) created by the actions of drug
traffickers” (Snow, 2013, p.348) render this a national security threat. Drugs
entering America from a foreign country or foreign organization (TCO) that have
a direct impact upon United States citizens classifies the issue of border
security as a national security threat.
Border security is a more complex problem than one may assume. To put into perspective, the magnitude of the issue, “According to Stephen Flynn, one of the country’s leading experts in border and port security issues, in 2000, 489 million people, 127 million passenger vehicles, 11 million trucks, 2.2 million railroad cars, 829,000 planes and 211,000 vessels passed through American border inspection systems” (Snow, 2013, p.345). We can’t rationally believe that each person, car, truck, plane or vessel was thoroughly searched for illegal contraband. It’s just not possible given the resources or number of border guards. Illegal drugs are the foundation of much crime and put a strain on the criminal justice and penal system. According to Snow (2013), “the country would be stronger if drug use were sharply curtailed or eliminated” (p.348). The best way to eliminate these drugs is stronger security along the Mexican border through increased route interdiction.
Marguerite Cawley, contributor to, has a negative
opinion about drug route interdiction. According to Cawley (2014), “interdiction
programs have failed to halt supply in consumer states and instead appear to
have facilitated the migration of organized crime — a phenomenon with important
implications for drug policy.” Cawley also believes “The migration of drug
trafficking operations is often put down to the “balloon effect,” a theory
touted by many academics and proponents of drug policy change that states
anti-narcotics efforts and increased interdiction in one area leads criminals
to shift operations to another, rather than having the intended impact of cutting
profits and increasing costs to drug traffickers” (2014). Ms. Cawley believes
that interrupting one drug route will lead to the opening of another drug
route. That may be true, but is the government supposed to allow known drug
routes to remain open when they can be stopped? Not taking action out of fear
of reaction from TCO’s is a dangerous precedent to set and sends the wrong
message to the American people.
improvements have been made at the southern border since 2000. There is
currently 700 miles of fencing compared to the 77 miles of fencing in 2000. “The border is patrolled by 107 aircraft and 84 vessels; in
2000, there were 56 aircraft and 2 vessels. Border Patrol also utilizes 8
unmanned aerial systems, compared to zero in 2000 and has 18,000 border patrol
agents compared to 8,600 in 2000” (DeLuca, 2016). It shows that the government
is putting an increased amount of resources at the border and looking for
increased security in return. The benefit of these extra resources is an increased
interdiction of drug transportation routes. According to DeLuca (2016), “In
2012 alone, Border Patrol agents on the southern border seized more than 5,900
pounds of cocaine and more than 2.2 million pounds of marijuana.” This shows
that interdiction efforts have been working with the extra resources. DeLuca
(2016) even claims that TCO’s have shifted operations and are starting to use
the Caribbean corridor to transport and ship drugs because of the increased
security measures at the southern border. Cawley is essentially right that
interdiction leads to other routes opening up, but I contest that these
interdiction results mean it’s working. TCO’s use innovative methods and
various routes to transport drugs, but the US Government needs to try to stay
one step ahead and keep sending resources to the southern border in an attempt
to interdict transportation routes.
Recommendation & Summary:
“In some important ways, the security of national borders is the oldest and most fundamental of all national security issues. Protecting and defending national, sovereign territory is, arguably, the most important and vital priority and task of government” (Snow, 2013). That quote is the basis for my recommendation. Interdicting drug transportation routes is an instrumental part of defending our borders and securing our safety. It won’t be easy, but it should be the focus of the US Government. With the opioid epidemic flourishing, it’s evident that the US Government needs to contain the flow of illegal drugs into the country. The factors that will be critical to successfully implement drug interdiction are finance, resources and intelligence gathering. The government will need to dedicate a significant portion of the budget to the southern border. With strong financial backing, the government can hire an appropriate amount of border agents and increase the resources (thermal imaging, UAV’s) available for them to do their jobs. “Many of these tunnels are extremely intricate. They include ventilation systems, electrical lighting, support beams, and might even include a rail system to transport the contraband” (DeLuca, 2016). These TCO’s use ingenious methods to get their products into the US and we need to use all the resources available to thwart their efforts. The final factor is intelligence gathering. The US needs to emphasize capturing these individuals and retrieving information from them. The threat of long-term imprisonment could force someone to reveal trade secrets or other valuable information for a reduced sentence. Capturing a high ranking member of one of these TCO’s that has vital information could lead to greater interdiction. The value of intelligence is sometimes overlooked, but in this case, gathering intelligence could prove invaluable and give us insight to how these organizations have been so successful in the past. “National security is, at its most elemental level, about protecting the citizenry from hostile others who might breach those borders and do harm to the citizens” (Snow, 2013). TCO’s that traffic drugs into the United States are hostile, breach our borders and intend do harm to our citizens. That is why interdicting transportation routes is the most effective way to reduce the effectiveness of TCO’s in America and abroad.
A Brief History of the Drug War. (2017). Retrieved from Abuse, N. I. (2017, January 6). Overdose Death Rates. Retrieved from Adinolfi, J. (2013, October). Six Things You Need To Know About America’s Illegal Drug Trade: Who’s Using What Where And At What Cost — ConvergEx Study. Retrieved from, J. S. (2015). Organized crime: from the mob to transnational organized crime (7th ed.). London: Routledge.America’s Habit. (1986). Retrieved from BEST. (2018). Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST). Retrieved from Blaszczak-Boxe, A. (2014, October 06). Marijuana and Your Health: What 20 Years of Research Reveals. Retrieved from Boyle, A. S. (2012, December). Threat Finance and Financial Intelligence Fact Sheet. Retrieved from:, M. (2014, May 21). Why Increased Interdiction Does Not Lead to Less Drug Trafficking. Retrieved from, D. (2016, April 12). Border Security and the War on Drugs. Retrieved from (2016, May 03). Organized Crime. Retrieved from, V. (2016, July 28). Organized Criminals Won’t Fade Away. Retrieved from: (2017). History of Drug Trafficking. Retrieved from, N. (Jan. 2015). “Losing Marijuana Business, Mexican Cartels Push Heroin and Meth.” Washington Post. Retrieved from Morell, M. (2017, September 3). The Opioid Crisis Becomes a National Security Threat. Retrieved from:, S. (2017, February 16). Why Trump’s Wall Won’t Keep Out Heroin. Retrieved from Snow, D. M. (2013). National Security for a New Era. Boston, MA: Pearson.Spiro, J. (2017, July 07). Threat finance has become big business. Retrieved from United States Sentencing Commission (2013). Quick Facts: Drug Trafficking Offenses Retrieved from States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. (2016). Border security, 2015 : Hearing before the committee on homeland security and governmental affairs, United States Senate, one hundred fourteenth Congress, first session. Washington: U.S. Government Publishing Office. Retrieved from: States. Executive Office of the President. (2011). Strategy to combat transnational organized crime : Addressing converging threats to national security. Washington, D.C.: Executive Office of the President. Retrieved from:, T. R. (2017, June 17). Drug Trafficking by the Numbers. Retrieved from, Y. A. (2000). Measures to Control Transnational Organized Crime.        National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), 184773. Retrieved from:

Dolutegravir Drug for Virologic Suppression

Graphical abstract:

Dolutigravir, second generation integrase inhibitor: A new hope for HIV patients

Mesra, Ranchi
Abstract: Undeterred efforts have been made and will be made in future to make it possible for HIV-infected individuals to achieve the goals of virologic suppression and one more result of this rigrous exercise is dolutegravir drug. It is the recent integrase inhibitor approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the treatment-naïve, treatment-experienced, HIV-infected adults who have previously taken HIV therapy and also for children ages 12 years and older weighing at least 40 kilograms (kg) who are treatment-naïve or treatment-experienced but have not previously taken other integrase strand transfer inhibitors. This article has reviewed all the aspects of drug including the structural and functional analyses, in vitro activity, pharmacokinetics, drug-drug interactions, MOA, metabolism, excretion, dosing/ adverse effects and resistance profile of dolutegravir. Dolutegravir is a potent and generally well tolerated antiretroviral agent that may play an important role in the treatment of patients harboring resistance to other antiretrovirals.Some new combinations of drug with other antiretrovirals are also in pipeline which may hope to increase the immunologic response of the HIV patients.
Key words:Dolutegravir, antiretroviral, integrase inhibitor, HIV
With the use of antiretrovirals with improved potency, tolerability, and resistance profiles, people with HIV are living longer and receiving longer-term care but even after so much advancement in therapy, they are struggling with an unknown fear of death [1, 2]. So, the need for new antiretroviral agents still continues to be substantial even after more than 20 years into the era of antiretroviral therapy, which have better tolerability, higher barriers to resistance, distinct resistance profiles, and fewer drug–drug interactions. These features of desiring drug have been inspiring the scientist all over the world to develop new agents that are not only focused on traditional targets but also on new novel therapeutic targets. The development of drugs targeting on critical steps in the life cycle of HIV-1 are drug classes that include HIV-1 reverse-transcriptase inhibitors (both nucleoside analogues and non-nucleoside inhibitors), HIV-1 protease inhibitors, and HIV-1 entry inhibitors (fusion inhibitors and CCR5 antagonists). The newest class of drugs in HIV treatment is the integrase inhibitor (INI) class.

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Retroviral DNA Integration with the host DNA is an essential step in the life cycle of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) [3], as shown in figure 1. This integration process is facilitated by the viral integrase (IN) enzyme which catalyzes the insertion of the viral DNA into the host genome in a multistep process. The process of HIV-1 integration occurs through 3 essential steps: formation of the preintegration viral DNA complex, 3’ processing and strand transfer [4]. HIV IN recognizes and binds specific sequences in the long terminal repeats (LTRs) of the viral retrotranscribed DNA in the cytoplasm. After DNA binding, IN cleaves GT dinucleotides from the 3’ termini of the linear cDNA in a process called 3’ processing .The processed viral DNA, as part of the preintegration complex, is then translocated into the nucleus, where IN inserts the viral DNA into the host chromosome by a process called strand transfer [4-6].

Figure 1 Schematic representation of HIV integration
Abbreviations: LTRs, long-term repeats; PIC, preintegration complex.
Integrase inhibitors (INIs) represent a class of drugs for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected individuals, blocking HIV genome transfer and integration into the host cell DNA [7]. In this category, first drug which got FDA approval was raltegravir (RAL) which have been found to be highly effective for the treatment of antiretroviral- naive and antiretroviral-experienced subjects and one more recent drug is elvitegravir (EVG) [8-12]. However, these first-generation INIs share common resistance pathways. During clinical studies of RAL, subjects with virologic failure and reduced RAL susceptibility typically are found to have virus with 1 of 3 signature mutational pathways (ie, N155H, Q148H/K/R, or Y143C/H/R) in the integrase gene [13]. So, continuing RAL treatment in these circumstances may lead to the addition of secondary mutations or pathways and N155H may evolve to Y143 or Q148 pathways [10]. In addition to this, EVG does not appear to have activity against RAL-resistant isolates and same case is with RAL [14-16]. Therefore, there is a need for an INI with a high barrier to resistance and activity in subjects with human immunodeficiency virus type. So, recent addition included in this category is Dolutegravir (DTG). This review article aims to covers all the aspects related to the dolutegravir which will help the scientists, academicians and common men to statisfy their knowledge pangs, like in vitro activity, pharmacokinetics, drug-drug interactions, MOA, metabolism, excretion, dosing/ adverse effects and resistance profile of dolutegravir as shown in figure 2, which exemplify methodology and evaluation of dolutegravir with the help of different information sources

Dolutegravir (DTG) discovered by a Shionogi and GlaxoSmithKline research collaboration, is a second generation novel HIV-1 integrase strand transfer inhibitor having activity against INI resistant viruses. In addition to it, also have favorable pharmacokinetic properties [17, 18]. It is indicated for use in combination with other antiretroviral agents for the treatment of HIV-1 in adults and children aged 12 years and older weighing at least 40 kg. It is available as a small, yellow, 50-mg tablet. Moreover, it can be taken with or without food and at any time of the day.
Structural and functional analyses of Dolutegravir (DTG)
Dolutegravir (DTG, S/GSK1349572) effectively inhibits HIV-1 IN variants which are resistant to the first-generation INIs. The structural basis for the increased potency of DTG resistant INIs is that it occupies almost the same physical space within the IN active site and make contacts with the β4-α2 loop of the catalytic core domain. Dolutegravir molecule has been divided into three main structural parts like tricyclic metal-chelating core, difluorophenyl ring and linker group which play a significant role in its binding to the protein as shown in figure 3. Tricyclic metal-chelating core binds to the intasome active site with the three coplanar oxygen atoms coordinated to Mg2+ cations The extended linker region connecting the metal chelating core and the halobenzyl group of DTG allows it to enter farther deeper into the pocket vacated by the displaced viral DNA base and to make more intimate contacts with viral DNA [19].

Figure 3 Structural and functional analysis of Dolutegravir
Dolutegravir has shown potent in vitro activity against both wild-type HIV and many INI-resistant mutants. It has potential for a higher genetic barrier to resistance. Dolutegravir has shown potent in vitro activity against HIV-1, with mean EC50 values of 0.5 nM (0.21 ng/mL) to 2.1 nM (0.85 ng/mL), IC50 of 2.7 nM and an IC90 of 2.0 nM in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and MT-4 cells. It also shows activity against HIV-2 virus with EC50 of 0.09 nM to 0.61 nM in PBMC assays. Cellular toxicity is also in the micromolar range for a variety of cell types, indicating that the observed antiviral effect of S/GSK1349572 are not due to cytotoxicity. S/GSK1349572 shows potency against all integrase- resistant single mutants with an FC as high as 3.6-fold. In the presence of S/GSK1349572 no virus with high resistance to S/GSK1349572 was observed with 32 nM or higher concentrations of S/GSK1349572 in the culture medium.
In vitro experimental studies reported that dolutegravir does not cause toxicity when used in combination, but had a synergistic effect with nevirapine, efavirenz, abacavir, stavudine, lopinavir, amprenavir, and enfuvirtide, as well as an additive effect when only used in combination with maraviroc. Efficacy of dolutegravir is also not affected on exposure to the adefovir and ribavirin [20].
Dolutegravir has a favourable pharmacokinetic profile without requirement of boosters and its terminal half-life is approximately 13–15 h [21, 22]. AUC0–24h and Cmax values are slightly less than the dose in the range of 2–50mg following single and multiple doses. One noteable change is the nonlinearness in Cmax and AUC with the increase in dose, So, a twice-daily 50mg regimen has been evaluated in the phase 3 ARV-experienced clinical trial rather than a once-daily 100mg dose [22-24]. The geometric mean steady-state concentration at the end of the dosing interval (Ctau) for a 50 mg dose was reported to be 1.6 μg/mL, which was approximately 25-fold higher than the protein-adjusted IC90 (0.064 μg/mL). A monotherapy study of, 10 days of dolutegravir 50mg daily dose in integrase inhibitor naïve HIV-1-infected adults demonstrated a 2.48 mean log10 reduction in HIV-1 RNA. This reduction was sustained for 4 days after discontinuation of dolutegravir only becoz of plasma concentrations which remained above the protein adjusted IC90. Overall, variability in exposure was minimal: 50 mg dosing to steady-state conditions achieved a geometric mean Cmax of 3.34 mg/ml (16% coefficient of variation), an AUC0–24h of 43.4 mg_h/ml (20% coefficient of variation), a t1/2 of 12.0 h (22% coefficient of variation) and a C24h of 0.83 mg/ml (26% coefficient of variation) [22]. A pediatric granule formulation of dolutegravir is currently in development. Preliminary data investigation reported that granules mixed in purified water have increased exposure compared with the tablet formulation with a geometric least-squares mean ratio (90% CI) for AUC0-inf of 1.57 (1.45–1.69) [23].
Drug–drug interactions
Dolutegravir pharmacokinetics has been evaluated in a single-dose crossover study for the effect of food and found that its absorption is modestly increased with food according to fat content [24]. Fat content affects the absorption of dolutegravir as noticed by the increased median Tmax from 2h to 3, 4, and 5h for low-fat, moderate-fat, and high-fat meals, respectively. Whereas dolutegravir AUC increased from 33 to 66% when administered with low-fat (300 kcal, 7% fat), moderate fat (600 kcal, 30% fat) and high fat food (870 kcal, 53% fat), respectively. [22, 24]. But these changes are not expected to affect safety or efficacy, So, dolutegravir can be dosed without regard to food. Dolutegravir causes drug-drug interactions with integrase inhibitors and some other drugs which is shown in Table 2.
Table 2. Dolutegravir (DTG) drug interaction with integrase inhibitors and other category drugs


Interacting drug class

Interacting drug

Effect on dolutegravir


Antiretrovirals NRTIs


No significant effect observed[25]


Antiretrovirals NNRTIs


DTG AUC, Cmax, and Cmin decreased 57, 39, and 75% [26]



DTG AUC, Cmax, and Cmin decreased 70.6, 51.6, and 87.9%.
ETR/DRV/r administration results in 25, 11.8, and37.1% decreases in DTG AUC, Cmax, and Cmin


ETR/LPV/r administration results in 11, 7, and 28% increases in
DTG AUC, Cmax, and Cmin [27]


Antiretrovirals PIs


DTG AUC, Cmax, and Cmin decreased 22, 11, and 38% [28]



DTG AUC, Cmax, and Cmin increased 91, 50, and 180% [29]



No significant effect observed [28]



DTG AUC, Cmax, and Cmin decreased 35, 24, and 49% [30]



DTG AUC, Cmax, and Cmin decreased 59, 46, and 76% [26]


Antituberculosis drugs


DTG AUC and Cmin increased 33 and 22% with DTG 50mg b.i.d.+ rifampin 600mg q.d. compared with DTG 50mg daily [31]



DTG AUC and Cmin decreased 5 and 30%, Cmax increased 15 %


Acid-reducing agents- PPIs/H2 RA


No significant effect observed [33]



DTG AUC, Cmax, and Cmin decreased 73.6, 72.4, and 74.4% [33]

DTG, Dolutegravir; ETR, Etravirine; EVG, Elvitegravir; LPV, Lopinavir; NNRTI, Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor; NRTI, Nucleos(t)ide reverse transcriptase inhibitor; PI, Protease Inhibitor; PPI, Proton pump inhibitor; r, Ritonavir; RAL, Raltegravir.
Mechanism of Action
Dolutegravir inhibits HIV integrase by binding to the integrase active site and blocking the strand transfer step of retroviral deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) integration which is essential for the HIV replication cycle as demonstrated in Figure 4. In this process, the integrase inhibitor chelate with the two Mg2+ ions in the integrase catalytic active site, unable the integrase enzyme to complete the strand transfer [21]. Inhibition of the integrase strand transfer reaction by DTG has been confirmed in studies with live virus, which demonstrated an accumulation of 2- long terminal repeat (2-LTR) circles in treated cells at DTG concentrations

Figure 4. Mechanism of action of DTG
Dolutegravir metabolism occurs through CYP3A4 (UGT1A1 glucuronidation) a major pathway while UGT1A3 and UGT1A9 are only minor pathways, which is catalysed by UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) 1A1 enzyme. In vitro studies reported that it is not a cytochrome P450 (CYP) inducer and neither an inhibitor. However, dolutegravir is an OCT2 inhibitor [21, 36]. Dolutegravir is also a substrate of UGT1A3, UGT1A9, BCRP, and P-gp in vitro [37]. It is the predominant circulating compound in plasma and the renal elimination of unchanged drug is extremely low (
Figure 5. Metabolic pathway of dolutegravir
Dose/Adverse effects
Dolutegravir tablets are usually taken unboosted, orally and without regard to food [39]. Different dose combination studies with other drugs are reported to be performed to find the best combination with high resistance barrier as shown in table1. The most common adverse effects reported to be associated with dolutegravir Phase III SPRING-2 trial were nausea, headache, nasophryngitis, diarrhea and also a slight increase in creatinine level due to inhibition of creatinine secretion; however, dolutegravir had no effect on glomerular filtration rate [47, 48]. Some common drug -related adverse events were also notified during Phase III VIKING-3 trial in treatment-experienced subjects were diarrhea, nausea, and headache [49].


Phase study


Dolutegravir vs other drug combinatons


Phase III SPRING-2 Study

Treatment naïve

Dolutegravir 50 mg once daily versus raltegravir 400 mg twice daily, each in combination with either tenofovir DF/emtricitabine (Truvada) or abacavir/lamivudine (Epzicom) 40


Phase III SINGLE Study

Treatment naïve

Dolutegravir 50 mg in combination with abacavir/lamivudine (Epzicom) once daily versus tenofovir DF/emtricitabine/ efavirenz (Atripla) once daily41



Treatment experienced, integrase inhibitor-naïve

Dolutegravir 50 mg once daily versus raltegravir 400 mg twice daily, each in combination with background therapy42


Phase III VIKING-3 Study

Treatment-experienced with previous or current failure on raltegravir or elvitegravir

Open-label dolutegravir 50 mg twice daily with current failing background regimen for 7 days, then with an optimized background regimen43


Phase III VIKING-4 Study

Treatment-experienced with virus resistant to raltegravir and/ or elvitegravir at screening

Dolutegravir 50 mg twice daily versus placebo , each in combination with current failing background regimen for 7 days, then with open-label dolutegravir 50 mg twice daily in combination with an optimized background regimen for both arms44


Combination under study


A fixed-dose combination (FDC) tablet (dolutegravir 50 mg abacavir 600 mg/lamivudine 300 mg) and a dolutegravir pediatric granule45,46

Dolutegravir (DTG) have been found to have a higher genetic barrier to resistance than raltegravir and elvitegravir [50]. Primary integrase resistance mutations associated with dolutegravir have not yet been identified. But viruses containing G140S, E138K, R148H, R263K, and G140S/Q148HRK mutations may show some level of resistance to dolutegravir. [50,39]. Raltegravir-resistant virus carrying a mutation at position Q148 had more reduced susceptibility to dolutegravir than isolates with other raltegravir mutations [51]. In vitro selection studies reported R263K mutation which commonly emerges in integrase in the presence of dolutegravir. R263K confers low-level resistance against dolutegravir and diminishes HIV DNA integration and viral fitness and no secondary mutation H51Y and E138K has been shown to compensate for the defects associated with the R263K primary resistance mutation against dolutegravir. All secondary mutations have a modest effect on resistance against this drug [52, 53].
Future of dolutegravir
ViiV Healthcare has requested US regulatory for the approval of a new single-tablet regimen (STR) containing dolutegravir, abacavir and lamivudine. A European regulatory application has also been submitted, according to the company. This combination, taken as separate pills, worked well in the aforementioned trials. If approved, the new co-formulation will offer the first one-pill, once-daily regimen that does not contain tenofovir/emtricitabine and could be particularly beneficial for people with, or at risk for, kidney disease or osteoporosis. Results from the primary analysis, presented at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) also reported that 90% of people taking dolutegravir and 83% taking darunavir/ritonavir achieved undetectable viral load in a ‘snapshot’ analysis, with dolutegravir meeting the criteria for statistical superiority. Based on these findings the researchers concluded that dolutegravir provide a potent and well-tolerated new option for first-line HIV treatment [54].
HIV-1 integrase is a unique target for antiretroviral therapy. Dolutegravir, a once-daily HIV strand integrase inhibitor currently approved for HIV-1 infected patients, provides at least equivalent antiviral efficacy and better tolerability compared with approved antiretroviral drugs. Efforts are ongoing for the approval of new single-tablet regimen (STR) containing dolutegravir, abacavir and lamivudine and also it would minimize the number of pills required for effective and acceptable antiretroviral treatment. Because of its unique mechanism of action, demonstrated virologic activity, resistance profile and tolerability, it is a significant advancement in HIV-1 therapeutics which will help HIV patients in long run.

Columbia and Peru’s Strategies to Combat the Illegal Drug Trade

Colombia and Peru: The
Wolves of the Illegal Drug Trade and Attempting to Stop It
The war on drugs has created a discourse
around the world centralized on the premise of eradicating the means of
production for psychoactive substances such as marijuana, heroine, and cocaine.
While this battle transcends territorial boundaries, it is spearheaded by
Western governments and multinational organizations; specifically, the United
States of America which many of these substances are destined to be exported to
from primary producing countries. As a result, this discourse has also been
centered on the countries known to produce the bulk of these substances. The
countries which supply the majority of said substances are situated in Latin
America, specifically, Colombia and Peru. These two countries have been the converging
points in which international attention has been focussed and where the primary
effort to combat the production and trade of these substances has been placed. Through
the comparison of Colombia and Peru’s social, political and judicial environments,
their chosen methods in combating the trade of illegal drugs and the success of
said methods become evident. Historically and in the present, the countries of
Colombia and Peru have had significant numbers of influential drug trade
organizations (DTO’s) operating throughout them resulting in extreme levels of
violence and high levels of illegal substance production. While the Colombian
and Peruvian governments have utilized similar tactics to try and resolve the
issue of the national and international drug trade, both have proven
ineffective due to a lack in political influence, economic stability, and
judicial integrity.

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            To gather a sense of whether Colombia
and Peru’s anti-drug trade policies have proven to be effective, these
countries historical economic states must be considered. As such, the
analyzation of Peru’s economic state will be looked at first. Peru’s relationship
with the production of illegal drugs hinges on the coca plant. Off and on from
the early 1990’s to present day, Peru has fluctuated between the worlds primary
and secondary producer of coca leaf (Lerner, 1998). Peru’s dominance in the
cultivation of the coca leaf stems from its cultural and traditional relation
to this species of plant and how this relation has been interpreted and
accepted by modern Peruvian governments and society. As such, the use of the
coca plant has been used in the production of coca tea; an entirely legal
activity in Peru. Thusly, due to the importance of the coca leaf in Peruvian
culture, the production and consumption of the coca leaf was legal until 1978.[1] It
wasn’t until the rise of cartels and their expansion from Colombia to Peru and
their impacts noticeable and having an impact on Peruvian society, that the cultivation
and production of coca leaf was controlled. With the rise of cartels and their
influence penetrating Peruvian society, the legal framework for controlling the
production of the coca leaf was conceived and legitimized through Decree Law
22095 (Lerner, 1998).
Although the Peruvian government had imposed
regulation over the production of the coca leaf, the continued production of it
and or processing into coca paste and cocaine was vastly more lucrative than
the cultivation of other plants. As a result, Peru’s high level of rural
poverty, unstable economy, and the small margin made from cultivating and
harvesting other plants provided the reason for many Peruvians to focus their
efforts towards the cultivation of coca and the production of its derivatives (Alvarez,
            Because of this pre-established tradition
within Peruvian society, the production of coca had already been normalized
within society. The poor economic conditions for a largely poor rural class and
the creation of a new market in which Peru had a comparative advantage suddenly
culminated in many rural populations engaging in the cultivation of coca or the
production of coca paste. The benefit of engaging in the production of coca for
Peru’s poor rural populations is demonstrated by Elena Alvarez as she explains,
“Studies estimate per-capita income for Andean peasants at around $50 in the
early 1970’s and somewhere between $157 and $620 in the early 1980’s.”
(Alvarez, 1992, p. 72). Thusly, these annual income estimates, specifically the
second figure, refers to the significant increase in annual earnings by Andean
peasants when they began growing the coca plant and engaging in the cocaine
industry. It is evident that such an increase in wages would be highly
appealing to the Peruvian peasantry. Furthermore, this steep increase in annual
income for the peasantry is vital in demonstrating the poor economic state that
Peru was in prior to its conceived monopoly over coca plant production. 
            Associated with the boom of coca,
another aspect played an important role in rural populations transitioning to
the production of coca; the rise of the Western diet in urban centres, the
transition away from Andean goods, and the rise of hyperinflation resulting in
economic crisis throughout Peru. Firstly, the transition to a Western diet in
urban centres further promoted the production of coca as the profitability of
supplying these urban centres with foodstuffs sharply declined (Alvarez, 1992).
Secondly, from the 1980’s to the mid 1990’s Peru experienced drastic rates of
inflation which resulted in it having to abandon its national currency, the
Inti and replace it with the Sol in 1991. This greatly impacted the economy and
resulted in many Peruvian’s being plunged into economic ruin. The rate of
hyper-inflation reached its peak in 1991 with an inflation rate of over 7000
Because of such tough economic times, a rising population was growing in Peru
which was out of work and suffering. Thusly, the profitability of engaging in
the production of the coca plant and its derivatives provided this group with
financial security. At the time, this was difficult to find and spurred the
creation of micro-economies (Lerner, 1998, p. 121). Consequently, due to high
levels of economic uncertainty and social suffering, the conditions were ripe
for Peruvian peasantry to engage in the cultivation of the coca plant, its
derivatives, and the illegal drug trade because of the socially formed idea
around the coca plant, its ties to Peruvian tradition, and weak economic
institutions failing to provide the people of Peru with a stable economy.
Lastly, the Peruvian governments attempt at combating the illegal drug trade by
implementing programs of crop substitution to attempt and sway the peasantry
from growing the coca plant largely failed due to the low annual income that
other plants could provide.
            The points made above all refer to
the reasons as to why Peru has become such a significant player in the
production of illegal drugs, primarily cocaine. These points are essential in
demonstrating how the cocaine industry has become such an important aspect of
the agrarian economy and why the methods utilized by the Peruvian government
have failed to adequately deal with the on-going issue of the international
drug trade. While Peru has been strafed by economic instability and weak
government thus being unable to properly combat the international drug trade,
this has also been the case for the country of Colombia. In the case of
Colombia, it has been faced with the problem of powerful paramilitary forces
and wealthy cartels, most notably, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia –
FARC, the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), and the Medllin and Cali
cartels. These groups engaging in the cultivation, production and international
trade of illicit substances and committing acts of violence. While the
high-level political threat that paramilitary groups in Colombia is not a
shared theme with regards to Peru, the influence of cartels has been
experienced by both countries.
Just as Peru has experienced economic
hardship, Colombia also shared in this pain following the Asian Crisis in 1998
in which traders panicked and dumped their shares in ‘emerging markets’
resulting in Colombia’s currency to slide (Livingstone, 2004). Because of this
economic crisis, the governing administration during this time under the
leadership of Andres Pastrana experienced the lowest approval rating in
Colombian history. Livingstone also mentions that the economic crisis led to a
drastic rise in conflict and in addition, greatly impacted the profits made by
the economy during this period.
The discourse around the international
drug trade has been a prominent topic around the globe as the import and export
of illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and marijuana have directly impacted societies
within Latin America but also North America and Europe as well. The source for
much of the world’s production of illicit drugs stem directly from the Latin
American countries of Colombia and Peru. Largely, resulting from the immense
production of illicit psychoactive substances like Marijuana, Cocaine, and
Heroine; these countries have implemented anti-drug policies which have
produced complex and varying results. Some of the primary methods which
Colombia and Peru have utilized to combat the production and trade of these
drugs has been the utilization of interdiction and military forces through “crackdowns”.
These two methods have been designed and used to halt the production and
exportation of drugs at the source; ideally stopping the drugs from ever
reaching their targeted populations. While both methods contribute to hindering
the drug trade in their respective regions, interdiction specifically refers to
the seizures of drugs, money, the arrests of traffickers, and the destruction
of drug labs (Gugliotta, 1992). Interdiction has been utilized in both
Peru and Colombia but has been the primary method which the Peruvian government
has used to thwart the groups and individuals participating in the production
of coca paste and cocaine. The other method mentioned, military forces, has
been used in both Colombia and Peru to fight influential cartels,
narcoterrorists, and revolutionary forces which have plagued these countries
since the early 1970’s to present day.
            While both Colombia and Peru have
utilized said methods in countering the illegal drug trade, both have
experienced different problems in being able to fully accomplish their
political and social goal of ending the production and trade of illegal drugs.
In the case of Colombia, the rise of drug ‘barons’ and cartels have made it
difficult to conduct meaningful political and judicial reform, and institute
democratic policies since these groups wielded significant wealth, were able to
buy their judicial impunity, bribe elected officials, and form their own
security networks. All of which worked to their advantage in maintaining their influence
over the political actors and institutions in Colombia. Unfortunately for the
Colombian government during the 1980’s, the drug traffickers wielded so much
political and judicial power resulting in them being “…acquitted by corrupt or
intimidated judges, or by judges devoted to judicial formalities that worked in
the traffickers’ favors” (Melo, 1998, p.71). In addition, groups such as the
Medellin cartel quickly resorted to widespread violence and acts of terrorism
in retaliation to the Colombian government choosing to escalate its war on drug
trade organization and begin conduct raids on cartel cocaine producing
laboratories using government military forces (Melo, 1998).
Notably, the use of these forces has produced varying results because these institutions
and people within them were generally corrupt.
Continually, the ineffectiveness of the
Colombian judicial system stemmed from its consolidation around a traditional
system of judicial practice. The traditional system centered on the ability to
solve legal issues within small town environments where the individuals within
these towns knew one another and the integrity of these people’s testimonies
could be trusted. Thusly, Colombia’s traditional judicial system was ill
prepared to change and handle the rise of national and international issues
like cartels and guerilla forces. With this judicial system relying heavily on
oral testimonies, a high focus on formal procedures, and the protection of the
procedural rights of the accused, drug trade organizations were able to penetrate
the judicial system by buying off witnesses, judges or resorted to intimidation
(Melo, 1998). Due to the ability of these organizations to influence the
judicial system and its method of largely basing its decisions off confessions
and testimonials demonstrates that the Colombian judicial system was
ineffective in enacting the rule of law and contributing to the fight against
ending the drug trade in Colombia.
Comparably, Peru has also faced issues
regarding its judicial system being able to formally handle the rise of coca
plant cultivation and cocaine production. Although it has struggled, Peru did not
face the same issues that Colombia had to face regarding the influence and deep
ties that cartels had created within the Colombian governments’ judicial and
political branches. Furthermore, Peru hasn’t faced the same serious threats
that Colombia has regarding revolutionary forces like the FARC and AUC groups.
Although both Colombia and Peru have struggled to combat the drug trade judicially,
Peru’s judicial system has largely been playing the role of ‘catch-up’ because
of the sudden rise of powerful cartels, the creation of the cocaine industry,
and the growing threat of the political guerrilla group; the Shinning Path.
This is evident through its inability to pass legislation making the
consumption of psychoactive drugs illegal and properly persecuting individuals
who have committed drug-related crimes (Lerner, 1998). Ultimately, the Peruvian
legal system lacks integrity and authority regarding drug control due to the reason
that it has had traditional ties to the coca leaf as well as a large portion of
its rural population being involved in the cultivation and production of coca
paste and or cocaine. Thusly, it is difficult to change a social phenomenon
like this because the use of the coca plant has been engrained and accepted
into the social norm and had been legally tolerated until the 1970’s.
            Comparatively, both Colombia and
Peru have utilized the methods of interdiction. One aspect of interdiction that
has been used to combat the cultivation of illicit drugs such as the poppy and
coca leaf has been the use of aerial fumigation. Although both governments have
used this method, it has proven to be ineffective and highly damaging to the
eco-system and inhabitants of the area because of the use of harmful herbicides
and pesticides. Heather Ahn-Redding expands on why aerial fumigation has proven
to be problematic specifically in Colombia. She explains that this method of
eradication has become difficult because drug trade organization continually
move further southward following each aerial fumigation raid. Simply, the more
aerial raids the Colombian government conducted the farther south these drug
trading groups moved their crops resulting in the aircraft performing the
fumigating to fly deeper into rebel territory making them vulnerable to ground
fire (2005). In both Colombia and Peru, quantitative
data demonstrates why this method of eradication was ineffective,
…between 1989 and 1992 resulted in a tiny
reduction of coca fields from 121,300 hectares to 120,000, according to US
government surveys. The financial losses to the guerrillas were not
significant. Similarly, in Colombia, despite massive drug eradication efforts
in the 1990s, the amount of coca grown in South America stayed about the same,
around 200,000 hectares… (Felbab-Brown, 2005, p.
the use of aerial fumigation in both Colombia and Peru negatively impacted the
eco-systems, livestock, and people living in these areas. It made the lands
that were sprayed ill fertile because of the harsh herbicides and pesticides
used. To conclude, this method of interdiction would not have needed to be used
had the Colombian and Peruvian governments utilized alternative methods of
interdiction rather than opt for a poison which not only negatively impacted
the environment but also the citizens of these nations.
            One of the major hurdles that both
the Colombian and Peruvian governments have had to tackle to combat the trade
of illegal drugs has been finding a way to expand and enact their political and
military will in every corner of the country. This has proven difficult because
both Colombia and Peru lack the infrastructure to allow individuals to access
all parts of the country. Furthermore, the geography of Colombia and Peru are
mountainous and are apart of the Amazon rainforest; sprawling with dense
vegetation making difficult to travel.[3]
Continually, with the rise of guerrilla forces in both Colombia and Peru, these
groups have utilized the terrain to their advantage specifically in the regions
of Caqueta and Meta in Colombia and the valleys of Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro in Peru.
In Colombia, the group known as FARC made things particularly complex for
Colombian governments to solve as it stood as a significant military threat to
the security of the country. The FARC was also heavily involved in the illegal
drug trade and was often united with traffickers against the Colombian
government. Melo (1998) explains this relationship: “The guerrillas received
resources and access to contacts who provided them with arms. While the drug
trade gained a means of protecting crops.” (p. 80). United and sharing
resources, the traffickers and guerrilla groups posed a prominent political
threat to the Colombian government. Ultimately, the Colombian government was
ill-equipped to handle such an active threat because of its weak judicial
system and lack of political influence outside of urban centres and as a
result, these groups were able to engage in the trade of illegal substances largely
            In Peru, it too also faced strong
opposition from a guerrilla group known as the Shinning Path; a group founded
on Maoist ideology that operated primarily in the Upper Huallaga Valley during
the early 1980’s. Like Colombia and the FARC, the Shining Path also engaged in
the trade of illegal drugs and offered protection to traffickers. Although
Colombia and Peru both had to combat guerrilla groups, Peru was largely
successful in eliminating the threat that the Shining Path posed. It accomplished
this by swaying the support of the peasantry living in the Upper Huallaga
Valley to align with the governments military forces thus enabling the Army to
engage the Shining Path and greatly reduce its numbers, ousting it from the
valley and eliminating its support structure. Although Peru was successful in
eliminating the threat of the Shining Path it failed to bring an end to the
drug trafficking problem following the election of Peru’s President Alan García in 1985.[4]
Consequently, Garcia ended the military campaign in the valley and utilized
methods of interdiction rather than military force. Accordingly, traffickers
were able to thrive and began to grow their operations as they stood unopposed.
Unfortunately, this cycle of military repression and drug trafficking
resurgence continued until the mid 1990’s. Even with military repression, Peru,
like Colombia, faced corruption problems as its military officers, “…earning
$283 (division general) to $213 (second lieutenant) a month would have to face
the task of arresting criminals that could offer them the possibility of
earning up to 70,000$ a year.” (Dreyfus, 1998, p. 28). In sum, Colombia and
Peru have faced the issue of guerrilla groups and powerful drug trafficking
organization. While Colombia faced harsh opposition from cartels and the FARC;
it was largely unable to deal with these issues, militarily and politically
simply opting for a peace treaty. On the other hand, Peru was intermittently
successful in eliminating the Communist group known as the Shining Path through
the use of military force and then resorting to interdiction tactics. The
striking aspect that both these countries have faced is the problem of high
corruption rates largely a by-product of poor economic standing resulting in
weak security, judicial, and political institutions.
            To conclude, Colombia and Peru have
faced many issues due to the rise and dominance of the international drug
trade. The trade of illegal drugs has impacted all areas of society and
continues to be a place of contention in the Western world. For Colombia and
Peru, the illegal drug trade became prominent through different means. In Peru
it started through tradition and out of necessity, comparatively, in Colombia
it was started through cartels. Although both countries began engaging in the
trade of illegal drugs under different circumstances, the governments of these
countries have utilized similar methods to combat the trade of illegal drugs.
The first method utilized by both Colombia and Peru was varying aspects of
interdiction. Notably, initiating programs of crop substitution and of
destroying coca and poppy plantations using aerial fumigation. These two
methods proved to be ineffective as the cartels and paramilitary groups in both
Colombia and Peru continued to grow their operations and the number of hectares
only diminished slightly. In the case of Peru, crop substitution programs
failed because it was more lucrative for the peasantry to grow the coca plant
rather than change and begin growing other crops; a similar case in Colombia.
In the end, many Colombian’s and Peruvian individuals continued to engage in
the production and trade of illegal drugs because of their country’s weak
political institutions and severe economic crisis making it enticing for
communities to engage in the illegal drug trade as it created work and it paid
a significant amount. Secondly, the judicial branches in Colombia and Peru were
ill-ready for the wave of crime and illegal activity produced by the trade of
illegal drugs. Even with policies passed, both countries judicial systems were
easily corrupted and were not designed to readily produce convictions against
the individuals engaging in the trafficking of narcotics. Lastly, Colombia and
Peru faced similar problems regarding paramilitary forces such as the FARC and
the Shining Path. These groups were able to thrive as the governments of
Colombia and Peru utilized the methods of interdiction and weak military
action. Even when these paramilitary groups and cartels were brought into
court, the problem of weak judicial institutions and rampant corruption played
a part in these countries being unable to stop the rise of the illegal drug
trade. Ultimately, Colombia and Peru have been fighting a loosing battle due to
ineffective political institutions, poor economic circumstances, and rampant
corruption throughout their security and judicial institutions.
Affairs, B. f. (2017, March). International Narcotics Control Strategy Report: Drug and Chemical Control. Retrieved from U.S Department of State:, H. (2005). Colombia. In H. A.-R. Caterina Gouvis Roman, Illisit Drug Policies, Trafficing, and Use the World Over (pp. 68-74). Lanham: Lexington Books .Data, C. R. (2018, july 24). Colombia’s Drug Trade. Retrieved from Colombia Reports: Data:, P. G. (1998, September 24). Cocaine, The Military and the Shining Path, 1980-1995. Geneva, Switzerland.Felbab-Brown, V. (2005). Conflict and Drugs in Colombia and Peru. The Journal of Conlfict Studies, 3-36.Felbab-Brown, V. (2005). The Coca Connection: Conflict and Drugs in Colombia and Peru. The Journal of Conflict Studies , 104-123.Gugliotta, G. (1992). The Colombian Cartels and How to Stop Them. In P. H. Smith, Drug Policy in the Americas (pp. 120-146). Boulder, Colorado : Westview Press.Johnson, S. (2001, April 26). Helping Colombia Fix Its Plan to Curb Drug Trafficking, Violence, and Insurgency. Retrieved from The Heritage Foundation:, R. (1998). Chapter 5: The Drug Trade in Peru. In E. Joyce, Latin America and the Multinational Drug Trade (pp. 117-132). New York, New York: St. Martin’s Press, Inc.Livingstone, G. (2004). History. In G. L. Pearce, Inside Colombia: Drugs, Democracy and War (pp. 57-69). New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.Melo, J. O. (1998). The Drug Trade, Politics and the Economy: The Colombian Experience. In E. J. Malamud, Latin America and the Multinational Drug Trade (pp. 76-83). New York, New York: St. Martin’s Press, Inc.Policy, O. o. (2018, 11 22). Source Countries and Drug Transit Zones: Peru. Retrieved from Office of National Drug Control Policy:, S. T. (2014, April n/a). Drug Trafficking, Terrorism, and Civilian Self-Defense in Peru. Retrieved from Combating Terrorism Center: At Westpoint:

[1] Affairs, B. f. (2017, March). International
Narcotics Control Strategy Report: Drug and Chemical Control. Retrieved
from U.S Department of State:
[2] Gomez, C. (2018). Peru’s Debt Crisis and Subsequent
Shock Economy. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Nov. 2018].
[3]M. Liliana. (2016). Deforestation and Coca Cultivation Rooted in Twentieth – Century Development Projects. [online] Oxford Academic: American Institute of Biological Sciences. Available at: [Accessed 20 Nov. 2018].
Dreyfus, P. G. (1998, September 24). COCAINE, THE
MILITARY AND SHINING PATH, 1980-1995. Geneva, Switzerland.

Strategies for Patient Safety in Drug Administration

This essay will focus on the aspect of nurses providing quality care in relation to patient safety within the nursing context of safe practice of drug administration. It will further discuss the underlying risk factors that are related to drug administration error and also discuss how to maintain a good practice to ensure patient safety. Robert et al cited in the National Nursing Research Unit (NNRU 2012) that quality care can be defined as when a patient is satisfied with a service or treatment being given by healthcare professionals.To achieve thisresult nurses need support, providing them facilities such as a good workforce and understanding to help improve safe practice (NNRU 2008).

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As Griffith et al (2003) stated, medication administration is one of the most important duties that are commonly undertaken by nurses which requires official authorized professional mandatory in hospitals or any care settings where care is delivered. These also, are responsible for their own standard of how to care for their patients (NMC 2008). Consequent to this, NMC (2010)standards for pre-registration nursing education emphasise that nurses are expected to work along with patients andcarerswhen administering drugs by means of facilitating information in regards to their treatment so that the patient can choose the right medical treatment. Corben V (2009) recommended that if nurses provide patients with enough information as well as educating them will increase patient trust and courage to take their medications.
NMC (2008) further suggested that nurses should work with the five rights of medication administration in delivering care in clinical settings. This involves; the specify patient, the right drug, route, time and dose thus preventing drug administration error. However, Elliot & Liu (2010), emphasise on nine rights including right documentation, action, form and response of drug management to maximise safe drug administration.
National Patient Safety Agency (2004) defines patient safety as an event that accidentally may cause damage or does not damage patients in clinical settings where care is delivered. Consequently, these nine rights are there to guide nurses, failure to do so may not onlyprotect the patient from harm thus could also lead to legal action against the registered nurse (Schelbred & Nord 2007). This means the nurse is known to be competent in carrying out such task (NNRU 2012). This can also cause the National Health Service (NHS) a huge amount of expenses (NPSA 2007).
According to NPSA (2011a) in Tingle J (2011a) indicate that 11% of medication errors in hospital were reported including patients’ falls and trips. However, the rise of incidents reported does not mean that patients’ safety is at high risk. Nonetheless, this is to bring awareness for nurses to provide a good quality care. Therefore, the nurse should show concern in patient safety (NPSA 2011c cited in Tingle J).
Elliot & Liu (2010) highlighted that nurses are required to administer drugs to the right patient as prescribed. This involves verifying the patient’s name alongside by asking him or her to state their names, date of birth and hospital identity number on the wristband as well as drug chart which shows a safe practice. Nonetheless, calling patients’ by their name may not confirm the patient identity as some patient with cognitive impairment or having language barrier might respond with no doubt (Bunker & Kowalski 2008).
However, Elliot & Liu (2010) cited that in some clinical environments, not all patients such as mental health and service userin nursing homes carry wristbands with the hospital identity number, as they may not be capableof identifyingthemselves individually. Therefore, Lynn P (2011) also argues that in general, the ideal method is that nurses should be checking patients’ wristband to identify their name.
Nevertheless, Shulmeister L (2008)pointsout that nurses working under stress due to heavy work-load could lead to not verifying patients’ identity beforegiving medication as required. Although this does not justify for a staff nurse not to follow the guideline of patient safety (Gould 2009).
Additionally, nurses are expected to give the right drug to the patient as being prescribed. In a situation where the nurse is in doubt or not familiar with the prescribe drug, the nurse administering medication should use the British National Formulary as a guide (Dimond 2003).Williams D.J.P (2007) cited that an error in drugadministering could occur when a patient is prescribed the wrong drug without understanding the patient’s medical status.
Benjamin D (2003) emphasised that nurses should assess patients’ knowledge of any allergies from the right drug being prescribed.Where there is a good quality of safe drugadministration, staff administering drug are expected to do so. If an allergy is identified, it is thenurse’sduty to document it and address it to the prescriber. Although Elliot & Liu (2010) cited that sometimes for the patient’s best interest, they are given medication in spite of any sensitive reaction that the patient may have experienced due to the benefits of administering the right drug is more than the allergy experience. As a result the nurse administering should take this into account.
In addition to this, an effective team work within the multidisciplinary is essential as this contributes to patient safety (Miller et al 2001). Consequently, registered nurses inform the prescriber immediately when a patient surfers a possible reaction from the drug given and documented. Thus this prevents patient from danger which may have been caused by the medication given NMC (2008). Elliot & Liu (2010) furthermore highlighted that safe drug administration does not only involve giving the right medication to a patient but also it is the duty of a nurse to observe if the patient is responding well to the drug given. Consequent to this, the nurse will have to assess the patient’s effectiveness of certain drugs being administered like anticoagulants; anti-arrhythmics and insulin which are so potential that the patient’s blood glucose level, pulse rate, respiratory or urine output will need to be checked.
Wright K (2009) state that for nurses to administer medication to patients it involves knowledge in drug calculation as this will help the nurse to give the right drug dosage to patients. NMC (2008) further highlighted that even though nurses may find some drug calculations very tricky to solve, as a result to maintain a good nursing practice it is the duty for another member of registered professional nurse to verify the drug calculations autonomously to reduce possible errors in drug volume or quantity. Armitage & Knapham (2003) in Agyemang R.E.O & WhileA (2010) argue that, most common drug incidents in hospitals is that a number of senior nurses in clinical settings sometimes do not follow drug preparation guidelines to ensure that drug prepared by another memberofstaff is accurate or not due to the hierarchy that the senior nurse may have overajunior staff.
According to Tang et al (2007) research has shown that more than a thirdof theerror in drug administration to patients is due to wrong dose. Williams D.J.P (2007 highlighted that approximately 5% of drug doses given to patient in hospital were caused by medication error even though it was not the intention of the prescriber. Elliot & Liu (2010) highlighted that sometimes administering wrong drug to a patient may take place if a prescriber does not prescribe the correct unit such as mg (milligram) in its place for mcg (microgram). Therefore, nurses are accountable to ensure patients’ safety and that they should be able to interpret patient’s drug chart cautiously.Therefore to prevent wrong drug calculation the nurse must make every effort to give the correct dose (Elliot & Liu 2010).
A safe medication administration can improve patient safety if nurses administer drug on the correct route as indicated by the prescriber. This action is a must to nurses and where the right route is not identified on the prescription, the nurse understands that the drug should not be administered but reported to the prescriber (Jones 2010). According to NPSA (2007) approximately 2.1% of drug administration errors from clinical settings were accounted for drug given mistakenly via the wrong route.
King’s College Medication administration policy (2010) further recommended nurses to perform safe medication administration; therefore, it is not acceptable for nurses to prepare at the same point in time drugs such as oral, intravenous and intramuscular as this can cause giving drugs to patients on the wrong route. For example, this safe practice was well recognised during my clinical placement. Registered nurses were administering medication according to the NMC (2008) Standard for Medicines Management as well as Kings College Hospital Medication policies which involve the nine rights. Even though sometimes nurses had heavy work-load on the ward yet this did not justify an unsafe medication practice.
NMC (2008) highlighted that as nurses are accountable for promoting patient wellbeing, also the nurse administering drug shouldbeaware to give patients medications at the right time. By doing so will enhance the effectiveness of the drug being prescribed for the patient. On the other hand, in some institutions drugs administrations are sometimes given in between half an hour before or in a while than the prescribed time dosage (Boundy & Stockert 2008). Dean S (2005) in Elliot & Liu (2010) mentioned that an investigation carried out in clinical settings showed 31% of drug administration errors were due to those patients who have been given their drug dose at the wrong prescribe time.
Additionally, documentation is another core element of nursing quality of care. Nurses are aware of recording and signing patients’ drug chart including the common drug name (generic), prescribed dosage, time, route and the purpose of the prescribe drugs as emphasised (Woodrow 2007). Also, the nurse is known to document whether if the patient rejects their drug as well as the possibility of not remembering to take the drug. Failing to do so could lead patients to be administered the same drug two times since there is no indication which can show that it has been administered. Therefore, the role of the nurse is to maintain an accurate record keeping maximising safe drug administration topatients(Woodrow 2007).
Gladstone J (1995) in Agyemang R.E.O & While A (2010) cited that even though patients are always the victim of drug administration error, nonetheless, nurses committing drug error are psychologically affected of remorse and have less trust or fear in legal action raised against him or her. Nevertheless, nurses recognize that addressing a medication error is a must. Also, reporting an incident may not only protect the nurse’s imagebut prevent another possible error from occurring and can be addressedin the local trust where the nurse is employed (NPSA 2010). Thus nurses by doing this, manifest their sincerity of theirprofessional character (NMC 208).
According to Fry & Dacey (2007) a survey carried out in the United Kingdom 94% participant of 127 out of 135 highlighted interruptions as a major factor that causes drug administration errors. However, Hitchen L (2008) in Jones SW (2009) stated that a number of NHS trustshave introducedthe use of putting on red sleeveless coat to minimise interruptions during drug rounds.
Drug administration has always been an important task in the nursing care with factors contributing to medication error which affects patient safety. Therefore, it is necessary that preventive measures should be taken to minimise drug error in clinical settings. This means nurses must develop their knowledge in medication along with patient’s medical care plan as well as following hospital drug guiding principles (Agyemang & While 2010).
Although nurses are putting into practice the five or nine rights of medication administration in clinical settings, it is still difficult to achieve good quality of care as drug errors are still occurring in hospitals. Therefore registered nurses should consider patient safety as a major concern in delivering care in clinical settings and to achieve this, the nurse should continue to focus and provide a safe atmosphere when administering drug (Elliot & Liu 2010).

Efficacy of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Program

In the 1983 the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) worked together to create a drug education program for elementary school children after recognizing that there were few drug prevention curricula available for school-age children.  The partnership created one of the first drug curriculums designed to be delivered to elementary school children and taught the negative effects of specific drugs.  The Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program or D.A.R.E.  Program was a 17 lesson curriculum and was based upon prevailing prevention science at the time (The History of D.A.R.E., n.d.).

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The D.A.R.E.  Program was unique in that it was designed to be delivered to students using uniformed police officers in the classroom.  Certified D.A.R.E.  Officers receive 80-hours or training specific to the D.A.R.E. curriculum as well as methods of instruction and classroom management.  Officers are carefully selected by their agencies and must be able to show an demonstrated ability to interact with children, have oral and written communication skills that are adaptable to age-specific audiences, and be an exemplary role model in both formal and informal situations to name a few (D.A.R.E., n.d.).  Over the next decade the D.A.R.E. Program grew from its roots in the LAUSD to a largescale nationwide program, with LAPD D.A.R.E. officers working to instruct police officers across the country in the delivery of the program (The History of D.A.R.E., n.d.). 

The curriculum grew over the years for the basic elementary school curricula to a full curriculum that coved all ages from kindergarten through high school.  It was also modified from a lecture based non-interactive program to a curriculum that was interactive and delivered through facilitation instead of lecture.  A 2001 rewrite of the program was funded by a $13.6 million grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (West & O’Neal, 2004).

Students now work in small interactive learning groups guided by the D.A.R.E.  Officer in activates, discussions, and role play.  While updates to the D.A.R.E.  curriculum maintained their substance abuse message, a focus on positive decision making and the inclusion of a D.A.R.E. Decision Making Model became a central part of the program.  This decision making model allows students to their own way of positively addressing high-risk situations in all facets of their lives (The History of D.A.R.E., n.d.).

The rapid expansion of school-based drug education programs began following President Regan’s “War on Drugs “campaign.  Then the 1989 Drug Free Schools and Community Act was passed which outlawed drug use and possession in schools.  These programs began a requirement that schools receiving federal funds include drug related education programs in their curriculum (Wysong & Wright, 1994).  As a result, by 1990 there were over 100 school-based drug curriculums being promoted.  D.A.R.E. was and still is the most common drug prevention curriculum in the United States.  According to their website, D.A.R.E. is now being implemented in 75 percent of our nation’s school districts and in more than 52 countries around the world (The History of D.A.R.E., n.d.).

While the D.A.R.E. program is widely utilized, some remain critical of the effectiveness of the program.  When researching the efficacy of the program, it was found that there are many studies with as many varying results.  It was also found that perceptions and user satisfaction data is available in addition to effectiveness.

A study conducted by Steven L. West Ph.D. and Keri K. O’Neal Ph.D. looked at many peer reviewed articles for their study.  The research they included in their study was eventually refined to a list of 11 studies that all included a control or comparison group and both preintervention and post intervention assessments of at least 1 of 3 variables: alcohol use, illicit drug use, and tobacco use (West & O’Neal, 2004).

The results of their study stated that there were only marginally better outcomes for individuals participating in D.A.R.E relative to participants in control conditions (West & O’Neal, 2004). Six reports that they looked at which indicated that D.A.R.E had more positive effects were all from studies that were very small considered to other. 

Their overall findings are that D.A.R.E is ineffective and although its effectiveness in preventing substance abuse has been called into question, its application in our nation’s schools remains extensive (West & O’Neal, 2004). They go on to state in the conclusion that “given the tremendous expenditures in time and money involved with D.A.R.E, it would appear that continued efforts should focus on other techniques and programs that might produce more substantial effects” and “that D.A.R.E was minimally effective during the follow-up periods that would place its participants in the very age groups targeted” (West & O’Neal, 2004).

West & O’Neal state that experimentation of alcohol and other drugs reaches a peak during adolescence or young adulthood and decreases in the years following.  They believe that based on this information that “ideally individuals enrolled in D.A.R.E would report limited to no use during their adolescent or young adult years” (West & O’Neal, 2004).  Their study, as well as almost all published studies, included information from research which refer to the “old” D.A.R.E. curriculum prior to being revamped in 2001. 

Another study I looked at studied parent perceptions of the D.A.R.E. program.  The study which was conducted in 2002, looked at responses from 420 parents of fifth and sixth-grade students enrolled in D.A.R.E. in a Midwestern county to determine their perceptions of the program (Lucas, 2008). The study was conducted using self-administered anonymous surveys that were distributed to the parents of the students by the D.A.R.E. officers who were teaching the students at the time.  The sample contained parents in urban and suburban areas of a metropolitan area with a population of about 655,000 (Lucas, 2008).   The survey instrument was based on a 5-point Likert scale and asked parents to indicate in what ways their child’s behavior or attitude has changed as a result of participating in D.A.R.E.

While this survey did not assess the actual effects of the D.A.R.E. program, it did look at the perceived effects of the program with regards to knowledge, attitude, and behavior. What the survey found was that the most perceived program impact was with respect to the child’s improved perception of police officers, and an improved understanding and ability to resist drugs (Lucas, 2008).  Parents of this survey stated they did not see an impact on school attendance or performance, but parent did report having an increased awareness of substance abuse problems themselves and increased conversation about drug use with their children as a result of the D.A.R.E. program.  The survey concluded that parents valued the program and perceived it to be a valuable use of classroom time.  It also concluded that drug knowledge was increased, which is the desired effect of the curriculum.

Along the same lines, the United States Department of Justice issued a National Institute of Justice Update in 1994 entitled the “The D.A.R.E. program: A Review of Prevalence, User Satisfaction, and Effectiveness.  The publication showed that support for The D.A.R.E. program, is strong, as is user satisfaction (National Institute of Justice, 1994).  Interestingly, it went on to look at the program and its perception by different races.  It stated that the D.A.R.E program appeals to students irrespective of race. Student receptivity to D.A.R.E was rated higher than other programs, but coordinators in districts with a large population of minority students were even more likely than those districts serving predominantly white students to rate students’ receptivity to D.A.R.E as very high (National Institute of Justice, 1994).

The publication went on to look at data regarding D.A.R.E and showed that it is best at increasing students’ knowledge about substance abuse and enhancing social skills (National Institute of Justice, 1994).  It showed that the effect of D.A.R.E on attitudes toward drugs and the police was more modest.  It also found that the effect on fifth and sixth graders regarding substance abuse were small, but the findings on tobacco use for this age group were “statistically significant” (National Institute of Justice, 1994).

This publication dated in 1994 found that the D.A.R.E method of delivery could benefit from a more interactive approach.  Future updates to the D.A.R.E. curriculum, such as the 2001 rewrite, created a more interactive delivery method.

A 2002 master’s thesis by James Fisher looked at the perceptions of teachers, principals, and school resource officers.  While not peer reviewed, this provided interesting insight into how the D.A.R.E. program is viewed by the stakeholders responsible for presenting the curriculum, as well as educators who are actively involved in the implementation of D.A.R.E.

Fisher used interviews of sixteen teachers, 9 school principals, and seven school resource officers (SROs).  While the previous study showed a positive perception of the D.A.R.E program, Fisher eventually concluded that the D.A.R.E program should be withdrawn and replaced with an entirely new drug and violence prevention program and curriculum specific to community realities and needs (Fisher, 2002).

Fisher reviewed and studied the curriculum, delivery, and efficacy of the D.A.R.E program.  The interviewees, for the most part, all responded favorably to the curriculum.  Some SROs stated they thought the program was too “crammed” and that there were too many lessons.  Teachers all responded favorably, and all but 2 principals were in favor of the program.  Of the two principals not in favor, one stated that they doubted the efficacy of the program questioning whether the students internalized the lessons even though they “spout off this, this, and this” (Fisher, 2002).  Fisher states that nearly 94% of the sample regarded the program content favorable, however, 23% still had some concerns about the curricular content, even though they responded overall favorably.

When studying delivery, Fisher found that all of his respondents stated that the delivery varied in terms of instructor personality, even though the curriculum was uniform in terms of content.  Teachers overall rated the delivery as “good” based on the quality of the uniformed officers presenting the material.  While designed to be presented uniformly and consistently, one teacher stated that she had experience with two officers, and the presentation was completely different between the two.  While she was the only respondent in Fisher’s study to indicate this, I have personally experienced different instructors and can conclude that the difference in delivery can create an entirely different program utilizing the same standard curriculum.

When it comes to efficacy, principals indicated that “there is nothing special about D.A.R.E. and any program deemed effective would be fine as well” (Fisher, 2002).   He also found that SROs may become overly critical or overly protective of the program because they have become so close to it.  Furthermore, he found that teachers may be more positive about D.A.R.E. because of their limited role in delivering the program.

When looking at the overall favorability of the D.A.R.E. program, he found that nearly 88% of his respondents were in favor of retaining the program.  This broke down to 100% of teachers, 86% of SROs, and 67% of principals proving that “D.A.R.E. has a synergy far exceeding the programs limitations” (Fisher, 2002).

Fisher’s statement that the program is ineffective is based on his finding that the majority of literature suggests that D.A.R.E. has a limited effect upon stopping student drug use, particularly as time passes.  However, there is a greater efficacy with respect to student attitudes and awareness about drugs as a result of exposure to the D.A.R.E. program (Fisher, 2002).

Fisher points out six key points about D.A.R.E. based on his study and the literature examined.  1) D.A.R.E. has a limited effect on reducing student drug use, 2) D.A.R.E. has greater efficacy with respect to student attitudes towards awareness of drugs, 3) A more flexible program than the current D.A.R.E. program is desirable, 4) A more comprehensive program is desirable, 5) Direct parental involvement is desirable but absent, and 6) D.A.R.E. is extremely popular (Fisher, 2002).

Most of these studies and the included literature refer to early adaptations of the D.A.R.E. program.  In 2017 D.A.R.E. America released an updated elementary school curriculum called “Keepin It Real”.  This curriculum continued using facilitation as the method of delivery by D.A.R.E. Officers and included the use of videos to begin and end each lesson.  This new curriculum was dismissed by D.A.R.E. New Jersey and the New Jersey Association of Superintendent of Schools because the curriculum was not evidence based or scientifically tested and removed the lesson on marijuana.  D.A.R.E America stated that the topic of marijuana should be addressed on the local level due to changes in legislation regarding marijuana across the country.  A stand-alone marijuana lesson was still provided for districts who wished to implement the lesson.

D.A.R.E. New Jersey became involved in litigation with D.A.R.E. America and eventually disbanded.  Law enforcement Against Drugs (L.E.A.D.) was formed in New Jersey and provided the Too Good for Drugs curriculum by the Mendez Foundation.

While the Too Good for Drugs curriculum is evidence based, it is through personal experience that I have found the curriculum to not engage the students.  The materials are lackluster and the lessons do not capture the attention of the students.  Based on this observation, one has to wonder if Too Good for Drugs will have the same effect on student attitudes and awareness about drugs that D.A.R.E. has been shown to have.

When looking at the research, I believe the most important part of any curriculum is the ability of that curriculum to capture the interest and attention of the students.  Without this engagement, the curriculum, evidence based and scientifically tested or not, will be ineffective. 

Ultimately the success of D.A.R.E. appears to rest on the officer presentation the program, and his or her ability to connect with the students and create a lasting bond.  That bond is what will cause the students to reflect on the lessons during a critical decision period, and hopefully make a good decision based on lessons learned. This highlights the importance of D.A.R.E. officer selection and training.


Fisher, J. (2002). D.A.R.E. (Drug abuse resistance education): Perceptions of teachers, principals, and school resource officers (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Great Falls.

Lucas, W. L. (2008). Parents Perceptions of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program (DARE). Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, 17(4), 99-114. Retrieved October 12, 2018, from’_Perceptions_of_the_Drug_Abuse_Resistance_Education_Program_DARE/download.

National Institute of Justice (U.S.), (1994). The D.A.R.E. Program: A review of prevalence, user satisfaction, and effectiveness. Retrieved October 12, 2018, from

D.A.R.E America (n.d.)., The History of D.A.R.E. Retrieved from

West, S. L., & O’Neal, K. K. (2004). Project D.A.R.E. Outcome Effectiveness Revisited. American Journal of Public Health,94(6), 1027-1029. Retrieved October 12, 2018, from, 2002448384/

Wysong, E., Aniskiewicz, R., & Wright, D. (1994). Truth and DARE: Tracking Drug Education to Graduation and as Symbolic Politics. Social Problems, 41(3), 448-472. Retrieved October 12, 2018, from


Differences Between Drug Related and Organized Crime in America

The Differences Between Drug Related and Organized Crime in America


What are the differences between a drug related crime and organized crime? Defining the terms exposes the conflicts and differences between the two separate but intertwined issues. The issues pertaining to drugs and organized crime is an international battle that directly effects the United States. Crimes committed because of the use, sale, or distribution of drugs are different from organized crime, yet, derive from the international and intranational effects of organized crime. It is important to know the contrast between the two issues to know the correlation and what efforts law enforcement agencies throughout the United States are taking in combination with international efforts, in the war on drugs. 

The Differences Between Drug Related Crime and Organized Crime

The history of America has been filled with some form of organized or drug related crime that dates to the time of the early settlers in the 1600s. Most drugs that are considered illegal and destructive to society today have been misunderstood by the public and interpreted in the medical field as having some sort of medical or healing purpose in early American history. “In 1914, the federal government passed the Harrison Narcotics Act, which made the sale or use of certain drugs illegal” (Hess, Orthmann, & Cho, 2017. Pg.581). Drug related crimes and organized crimes can be directly associated with each other yet are completely different in a sense of what and how criminal activities are committed and by whom they are committed. The differences between a drug related crime and organized crime are established through understanding the definition of each term, the differences of crimes committed and the effects of drugs in relation to organized crime, and what the different issues law enforcement consider in their approach to combat these two issues.

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What is drug related crime? The United States Department of Justice has defined drug related crime as, “A crime to use, possess, manufacture, or distribute drugs classified as having a potential for abuse” (U.S. Department of Justice, 1994, p. 1). Some examples of drugs possessed and related to crime are powdered cocaine and crack, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamines, club drugs, prescription drugs, inhalants, and even some over the counter drugs that are to be used in an illegal manner. Drugs are directly in relation to the smuggling and trafficking organizations that bring narcotics and opiates into the United States from other countries and within the United States itself. Drug related crime today has been a constant battle for law enforcement and require the expertise of multiple agencies ranging from multijurisdictional big government intervention like the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security to local and state municipalities, for example, city police or the Drug Enforcement Agency. Examples of drug related crimes are smoking marijuana or snorting cocaine, manufacturing methamphetamines or growing marijuana, selling or distributing any type of drug like ecstasy or prescription medication whether it was legally or illegally obtained. Large scale smuggling and trafficking of drugs, weapons, and even humans into and throughout the United States from other countries has steadily increased over the last decade. Violence and murder are directly associated with the drug trade and leads to massive human rights violations. 

What is organized crime? Federico Varese states the definition as, “namely that organized crime involves the pursuit of profit through illegal activities by an organized hierarchy that show continuity over time. Among the means discussed, the use of violence and corruption is recurrent” (Varese, 2010, pg. 28). The FBI definition of organized crime is the same. Organized crime enterprises in the United States first started with their focus mainly on illegal gambling institutions and prostitution rings. Today drug trafficking is now a common practice and has been one of the biggest sources of revenue for organized crime syndicates. What is the difference between an ordinary criminal and an organized criminal? As explained by Thomas Schelling, “The basic distinction between ordinary and organized criminals: the former is wholly predatory, and the latter offer a return to the respectable members of society. Nobody will miss the burglars if they suddenly disappear. But if the confederation of employed in illicit businesses were suddenly abolished, it would be sorely missed because it performs services for which there is a great public demand” (Schelling, 1984, pg. 180). Money laundering, human trafficking, drugs, pornography, gambling, loan-sharking, fraud, and infiltration of legitimate business are some examples of the so-called victimless crimes that happen in organized crime networks.

The differences between drug related and organized crimes committed vary considerably but some can say they are intertwined and correlated with each other. Drug crimes usually start at the base of society in which an individual consumes drugs on a regular basis and deals drugs to support his or her own addiction or gets addicted to the product my means of sampling the product over time to make sure of the purity they receive to sell.  The results of drug use and addiction usually lead the addict to perpetuate other crimes that directly affect society to support the habit of the offender and can include robbery, burglary, theft and numerous other violent offenses. The average non drug using American does not perpetuate such crimes. Individuals with an addiction can be associated with these crimes and the level of the offense can be associated by their habitual use.

 According to a research report by Bernard Gropper, he explains the correlation of drug use as it pertains to criminal activity in Harlem, New York. It states, “The results show how the intensity of the criminal behavior- especially property crime- of such addicts tends to be related to their current drug use status. During a nine-year period at risk, their crime rates dropped to relatively low levels during periods when they had little to no narcotic use. While they were actively addicted, however, their criminality was about four to six times higher. Overall, they averaged two thousand crime days (defined as any day in which they committed one or more crimes) per addict. For those who has several periods of addiction and reduction or cessation of narcotics use, the levels of criminality clearly tended to rise and fall with drug use” (Gropper, 1985, pg.2). The average drug addict can become a career criminal or one who consistently commits violent offenses, robbery, burglary, and/or theft in order to support or supplement their use. Drug crimes associated with addiction and peddling can be the difference in an individual maintaining a career criminal status or moving into the more technical sides of crime, like smuggling and trafficking, associated with gangs or more organized crime syndicates.

Organized crime in contrast to drug related crime is focused more around the basis of larger scale smuggling and trafficking of humans, drugs, weapons, and a variety of other victimless crimes that take advantage of the fabric of society for the advantage of the organized crime groups. Murder, rape, assault, extortion, kidnapping, and crimes as such are also correlated with the practice of smuggling and trafficking. It is a practice that can lead to the enslavement of the individuals that are trying to be smuggled into the country. The difference being that if an individual cannot pay the person or group smuggling them into the country the individual becomes a victim of trafficking. The freedom of choice is no longer present, and exploitation ensues. Weapons and human trafficking are other main sources for organized crime organizations and have a drastic impact on society both in the United States and abroad. The biggest issue with organized crime is the extortion of government officials to accentuate and protect the crime group in the name of money or threats of their family being kidnapped or murdered. Corrupt officials and law enforcement can corrode society around them having a direct effect on the innocent.

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 According to Felipe Calderon, “Transnational organized crime erodes the rule of law and that the damaging consequences of this situation go beyond the high crime rates. Organized crime not only deteriorates social order and individual liberties, but it is also a threat to democracy and the state itself, as it tends to displace and substitute law enforcement agencies and institutions. Once it overtakes the government, it extracts the rents of society through violence and the threat of it. Once the state has lost control of its own institutions, reality eclipses Hollywood stories of extortion, kidnapping, and killing. The response to this threat must be global through international cooperation mechanisms, and it must definitely involve national and sub national actions” (Calderon, 2015, Para. 3).

A crime which is described as an illegal activity in which all people involved are willing participants can be considered victimless. Illegal gambling and book making rings tend to corrupt society and take advantage of individuals with addictive traits or financial issues. Loan sharking takes advantage of individuals and businesses at an exorbitant interest rate and is supported by gambling operations. Pornography can lead to the person involved to becoming a victim of human trafficking and forced to perform prostitution acts against their will for the profit of others. Money laundering involves the intrusion of legitimate businesses to launder the illegally obtained money and turn it into a reputably perceived income essentially taking over the business for the benefit of the organized crime group. The main organized crime groups that commit these crimes are varied from small to large gangs, for example MS-13, and Mafia type organizations. One of the first and most famous in the United States being the Italian Mafia. International crime groups like the Russian, Asian, and Latin American groups have made a huge increase in American organized crime in the recent decade. This problem not only makes it a problem for law enforcement agencies in the United States but an international issue requiring transnational agencies all around the world to work together.

What are the different techniques that have been implemented by law enforcement to combat the issues involving drug related crimes and organized crime?  On July 17th, 1971, President Richard Nixon declared the “War on Drugs” in America to combat the spreading issue of drug smugglers, consumers, and distributers among our American society. This effort to combat drugs was the start of a multibillion-dollar war and recognized the drug trade as an essential supplement to organized crime groups. International agencies have been developed and strengthened to fight the onslaught of drugs pouring into America from all around the world. The largest suppliers of drugs coming from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

 Law enforcement has been proactive the fight against the drug trade and its affiliated organized crime groups. Some techniques to combat drug and organized crime involve, “Organized crime investigations in the United States increasingly involve agencies from other countries, as such criminal organizations rarely restrict their illegal activities to the jurisdiction of one nation. Proactive community policing and problem-solving approaches. Intra-agency cooperation is also needed because most organized crime activities cross jurisdictions. Surveillance and undercover operations are also sometime indicated. One strategy that is essential to combating international organized crime (IOC) is the formation of interagency analytical teams to systematically collect, synthesize, and disseminate intelligence information on selected IOC targets as well as emerging IOC threats and trends. Another source for combating organized crime is the local citizenry” (Hess, et al et al, 2017, Pg. 614).  Some investigative aids in the war on drugs and organized crime involve electronic surveillance, pen registers, trap and trace devices, wiretapping, multijurisdictional intelligence sharing systems, asset forfeiture, and traditional surveillance techniques. Although there are differences between drug related crimes and organized crime, the efforts put forth by law enforcement to combat these issues are intertwined due to the correlation of drugs and its relation organized crime.

Understanding the various distinctions between a drug related crime and organized crime is established through understanding the definition of each term, the differences of crimes committed and the effects of drugs in relation to organized crime, and what the different issues law enforcement consider in their approach to combat these two issues. Crime in the perspective of the small-time drug dealer to the most advanced organized crime groups is an international issue that will continue to find its foothold in American culture and society. Despite agencies from all around the world working together to continue this war on drugs, drug and organized crime will always continue to evolve plaguing law enforcement with the necessity to evolve their tactics to improve investigative techniques, legislation, policies to fight back. Strengthening the international cooperation with other countries to decrease the abilities of the crime groups abroad from being able to cross borders is equally important to law enforcement agencies in America. The fight against poverty, restructuring the educational system, and creating new opportunities to keep our youth off the streets to have a chance at a better future is a good start.

Reference page

Hess, Orthmann, & Cho (2017), Criminal Investigation 11th Edition, Investigative    Trends. Chapter 18. A Dual Threat: Drug related Crime and Organized Crime, L01, Pg.581. Book.Boston, Ma. Cengage Learning

U.S. Department of Justice (Sep. 1994), National Criminal Justice Reference Service, Drugs and Crime Data, Fact Sheet: Drug Related Crime, Pg.1. Article. Rockville, MD.

Varese, Federico. (2010). Organized Crime: Critical Concepts in Criminology. Pg. 28.Book. London; New York: Routledge.

Schelling, Thomas. (1984), Harvard University Press, Choice and Consequence: What is the Business of Organized Crime. Chapter 8, Pg. 180, Book. Cambridge, Mass & London, England.

Gropper, Bernard A., (February 1985), National Institute of Justice, Probing the Links between Drugs and Crime: Effects of Drugs on Criminality, Pg. 2, Research-Report in Brief, U.S. Department of Justice.

Calderon, Felipe., (Sep 8th, 2015), Harvard International Review, Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime: Connected but Different, Article, Cambridge, Ma.

Hess, Orthmann, & Cho (2017), Criminal Investigation 11th Edition, Investigative    Trends. Chapter 18. A Dual Threat: Drug related Crime and Organized Crime, Pg.614-616. Book.Boston, Ma. Cengage Learning

Drug Promotion in the Media

The issue of consumer protection has been widely discussed in many countries across the world and especially in the advanced countries. In recent times, this discussion has diffused into developing countries, especially in Africa and most particularly in Ghana. Also, the media’s integrity and ethics of Journalism has been extensively debated. The subject matter of using the media to promote drugs and drug related products to consumers directly has undergone much scrutiny lately. The literature on these issues is profuse, yet some notable ones will be reviewed in the subsequent paragraphs.

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To begin with, Julie Donohue in her article, “A History of Drug Advertising: The Evolving Roles of Consumers and Consumer Protection” (2006) queried the importance of direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) on drugs. Although she agreed on the fact that “the main tool of consumer protection laws is the disclosure of information in order to level the playing field between buyers and sellers” (p662), to her, this phenomenon actually encourages “self-diagnosis” and is therefore detrimental to consumer’s health. She blamed this problem on the legal and cultural changes in health care. In her own words, she argued that the “legal and cultural changes in health care brought about by the patients’ and consumers’ rights movements laid the groundwork for the DTCA of prescription drugs. DTCA was surely an unintended consequence of these social movements and may, paradoxically, serve to frustrate future efforts to protect patients and consumers” (p691).
She further argued that the use of mass media advertising for prescription drugs misleads consumers into taking costly prescription drugs that they do not need. She opined that mass media advertisements were only intended to be a “vehicle for pharmaceutical manufacturers to tell end users about their products’…and ‘not to help businesses market their products” (p662). According to her, drugs that advertised to consumers had the advantage of established brand recognition, and this is what has accounted for most pharmaceutical companies pushing their products to the mass media to be advertised.
Also, in the book The Truth About the Drug Companies (2004), Angell Marcia, apprised us thoroughly on underpinnings of drug companies. Tracing their eruption from 1980, Angell, lamented the manner in which the pharmaceutical industry has not been innovative. To him, “only a handful of truly important drugs have been brought to market in recent years, and they were mostly based on taxpayer-funded research at academic institutions, small biotechnology companies or the National Institutes of Health. The majority of ‘new’ drugs are not new at all but merely variations of older drugs already on the market. These are called ‘me-too’ drugs”. (p3).
He explained that the thinking behind these “me-too” drugs is to grab a share of an established, lucrative market and make profit. Thus, to him, drug companies spring up almost every day, not because they intend to bring any new product onto the market, but only to reproduce drugs which are already in existence, and with the motive of making profit. This motive informs their resort to the mass media for direct-to-consumer advertisements (DTCA) so as to gain advantage over their competitors. He thus advocates that the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) must stiffen their approval of new drugs coming unto the market. Thus, to him, “the me-too market would collapse virtually overnight if the FDA made approval of new drugs contingent on their being better in some important way than older drugs already on the market” (p12). He is of the view that this measure would make drug companies focus on finding truly innovative drugs and also reduce the incessant and enormously expensive marketing necessary to jockey for position in the me-too market.
Furthermore, in their article “Media Credibility and Informativeness of Direct-to-Consumer Prescription Drug Advertising”(2004), Huh et al evaluated consumer perceptions of the media credibility and informativeness of direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertisement and examined how those perceptions were influenced by consumer predispositions and demographic characteristics. To them, DTC advertisements are targeted mostly at “older consumers’…’a segment that is particularly susceptible and vulnerable to commercial persuasion” (p29). This is because, to them studies have documented “various physical, psychological and social changes that accompany aging, including reduced sensory abilities…cognitive impairments…that can alter the communication process and result in decision-making difficulties and decreased resistance to persuasion” (p34). This trend, they argue is what has necessitated the insistence on media credibility because “audience tend to rely on media they consider credible and informative” (p29) in choosing which drug to buy or not to buy.
They argued that, in recent times, the basic objective of DTC advertisements are to “inform, persuade and remind consumers to take prescribed actions toward advertised drugs-to learn, to prefer, to ask for, and to ask for again” (p30). This, to them, is a significant departure from the original form of advertising, which concentrated on “influencing and maintaining demand for prescription drugs through the use of the push promotion strategy” and which took the form of “trade advertising directed at physicians and was used to deliver information that would work with other promotional tools to educate, persuade and help sell advertised drugs to physicians” (p29). Notable among their findings was the fact that “consumers place greater value on the information utility of the media of DTC drug advertising than its credibility as an information source about prescription drugs” (p53).
Moreover, Burke et al in their article “Deception by Implication: An Experimental Investigation” (1988) set out to, among other things, measure the “misleading of two common types of advertising claims and their relative effectiveness for increasing consumer brand preference and purchase likelihood” (p484). These types of advertising claims include, those “that might lead the consumer to have a false impression of a product not by literal interpretation, but by implication” (ibid). To them, there is a need for consumer protection for products such as “pain relievers, where brands offer similar or identical performance and consumers lack a rigorous reality test of the truthfulness of ad claims” (p492). This is because, they found out that “expanded and qualified claims can enhance consumers’ images of advertised brand and related purchase intentions” (ibid). They then proffered that in view of the potential of these advertisements to “mislead consumers in cases where the advertised brand has no real competitive differentiation, advertisers are advised to use such claims judiciously” (ibid).
To add to, in his article “Self Regulation and Television Advertising: A Replication and Extension” (2001), Abernethy Avery opined that “although television stations have the right to reject almost any advertisement submitted for broadcast, exercising that power to protect consumers from potentially false or misleading claims can directly lower station revenues” (p1). Thus to him, because of the possibility of television stations, like other media platforms, of losing revenue or not making much profit, these media outlets accept any advertisement from advertisers and air them on their platforms, without recourse to whether or not the advertisement can harm or mislead the consumer. Though he agrees that there are state and federal laws regulating the advertising of certain products such as tobacco, and also specific punitive measures for false and misleading or defamatory advertisements, he is of the view that much responsibility rests on media houses to engage in “self-regulation” (p2) or “clearance process” (p3) to sieve advertisements before putting them out for the public’s consumption.
In his own words, “owners and managers of media vehicles have great power to determine the type of advertising they carry’…’and determine if it is acceptable for their audience” (p2). He believes this process has the potential to “provide considerable consumer protection from false, misleading, or, inappropriate advertising” (p3). He found out through his research that “only 3% of stations substantiate the claims of every submitted advertisement and 2.5% of stations reject 10% or more of advertisements submitted for broadcast” (p9). These results to him, indicate that the “consumer protection provided by television advertising…is uneven” (ibid). As part of measures to curb this anomaly, he posits that the Federal Communications Commission must “require stations to submit their advertising review policies during license renewal and that those policies be part of public record” (p10). He believed that this measure would improve consumer protection since media houses and advertisers will be under obligation to put out true information about products.
Donohue, J., (2006) “A History of Drug Advertising: The Evolving Roles of Consumers and Consumer Protection” in Milbank Quarterly, Vol. 84, Issue 4, pp 659-699
Marcia, A., (2004) “The Truth about the Drug Companies”.
Huh et al., (2004) “Media Credibility and Informativeness of Direct-to-Consumer Prescription Drug Advertising” in Health Marketing Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp 27-61
Burke et al., (1988) “Deception by Implication: An Experimental Investigation” in Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp 483-494
Abernethy et al., (2001) “Self-regulation and Television Advertising: A Replication and Extension” in Journal of Adertising Research, Vol. 41, Issue 3, pp 31-37