In 2001 alone, an estimated 2,913,724 pounds of drugs ranging from marijuana to heroin were seized by the federal government, according to the Federal-wide Drug Seizure System. Possibly millions more made it onto the market for drug use, largely due to the existence of drug trafficking. Drug trafficking is the act of transporting, distributing and selling illicit drugs, or even legal drugs for illicit uses. This illegal act causes a wide range of negative effects on the United States population.
One of the largest problems that drug trafficking creates is the financial cost on society. For example, in 2002, drug-related costs to society were estimated at $180.9 billion, which is divided between various costs like health care and productivity losses according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. On top of these numbers are more direct financial costs such as budgeting for the police, DEA, FBI and border patrol agents involved directly in preventing the trafficking of drugs.
Drug trafficking can lead to death both directly and indirectly. You only need to look at the cartel violence on the border of the United States and Mexico to see the cost of life related to drug trafficking of both those involved in the trade and innocent civilians. Those in protective services are at a high risk for death as well including police officers, DEA agents and border patrol agents. In fact, between 1991 and 2000, 33 law enforcement officers were killed during drug-related operations, states the Drug Policy Information Clearinghouse.
Correctional System Effects
Trafficking of drugs also has an effect on the correctional system in both overcrowding jails and prisons, as well as increasing the annual cost of corrections in the United States to feed and house drug-related inmates. In 2009, the DEA alone made 30,567 drug-related arrests, many of who ended up in federal penitentiaries across the United States. This does not include the more than 1.5 million other drug-related arrests at the state level, ranging from possession to trafficking, reports the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The drugs provided by trafficking also result in disability and death through overdose and drug-related diseases. This includes side effects from the respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological, kidney, liver, musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal damage that illicit drugs can inflict on the body. In fact, one in four deaths in the United States can be linked to alcohol, tobacco or illicit drug use, with illicit drugs being largely provided by drug trafficking operations, finds the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Office of National Drug Control Policy: Drug Data Summary
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: The Social Impact of Drug Abuse
- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration: Stats & Facts
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: Mortality
- Bureau of Justice Statistics: Key Facts At A Glance
- Office of Drug Control Policy: The Economic Cost of Drug Abuse in the United States.
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