making amends
Can Drug Trafficking Be Stopped?
Despite the efforts of the U.S. government, law enforcement, educators, and others, the illegal drug trade continues to bring in huge profits at every level of operation. How has drug trafficking continued to be such a significant issue? The country has drug users from coast to coast, with Delray Beach rehab centers even being so popular that the area is known as the “Recovery Capitol” of America.

Drug trade continues to occur for the same reason that any successful business stays that way – supply and demand. Drug traffickers are simply supplying a product, in this case an illegal product, that meets the demands of the market. And that demand is enormous. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) set up a study to find out how much U.S. drug users spent on illicit drugs in the previous 10 years, and the estimated result was a staggering $100 billion. That study didn’t even cover every drug, just the four most popular, which are marijuana, cocaine and crack cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.

Another study in 2013 found that 24.6-million Americans took some type of illicit drug within the previous month. Now, some of those people use drugs casually, but many of them become addicted, spending more and more of their money on drugs until they eventually end up in one of those Delray rehab centers.

High Profit Margins Bring People into the Drug Trade

We’ve established that there’s a high demand for drugs in the United States. But why would people choose to sell an illegal product that could land them in prison for years?

The potential profit from the drug trade is massive, and convinces people to take the risk of imprisonment. Let’s use cocaine as an example of how much profit a drug trafficker could make.

In source countries, such as Colombia, a drug trafficker could likely find 1 kilogram of pure cocaine for about $1,500. In the United States, that same kilogram of cocaine could be worth $25,000 or more. The drug trafficker who brings that kilogram into the United States will walk away with a huge profit, and then the people who distribute the cocaine will divide it into smaller amounts that they can resell.

They could simply divide it into 1,000 grams, with each of those grams selling for about $150. The distributors need to do more work as they’re selling a much larger quantity of drugs, but they could make $150,000 this way. That’s if they simply divided the cocaine into those smaller amounts, but they’ll actually cut it by adding different substances to the cocaine. Distributors often add sucrose, lactose, baking soda, creatine, and cornstarch to cocaine to increase the weight. Each gram they sell contains some of the actual cocaine and some of the cutting agent, which means they’ll increase their profit margin even further.

Cutting agents are used with many drugs. They’re common with cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Distributors don’t always use harmless cutting agents, either, sometimes choosing to use fentanyl or elephant tranquilizer, which put the user at a greater risk of an overdose.

Cocaine actually isn’t even one of the most-profitable drugs, as heroin and methamphetamine have much larger profit margins. A drug trafficker in a heroin source country, such as Pakistan, could obtain 1 kilogram of the drug for $3,000. That kilogram could be worth $125,000 in the United States. Heroin is also one of the most addictive drugs on the market, which is why so many users end up in Delray Beach rehab centers for that drug in particular. Methamphetamine is very cheap to produce with the right lab setup, and labs across the United States can make 1 kilogram for $500 or less, then sell that for $60,000. With profit margins like these, it’s no wonder that so many choose to enter the drug trade.

Law Enforcement’s Effect on Drug Trafficking

Law enforcement does its part to catch drug traffickers at every level. The problem is that there truly is no one who’s irreplaceable when it comes to the drug trade. Everyone involved in drug trafficking works hard to evade law enforcement, and it is a constant cat-and-mouse game between DEA agents and drug traffickers, distributors, and dealers. But no matter who law enforcement catches, there’s someone else ready to step in and take their place.

The Colombian cocaine trade provides one of the most famous examples of this. Pablo Escobar was by far the most successful cocaine trafficker in the nation for many years, shipping large amounts of cocaine to the United States on a regular basis. Attention from both U.S. and Colombian law enforcement weakened and eventually destroyed his business, and he died in a shootout in 1993. Even with his operation crippled that last year, the amount of cocaine going from Colombia to the United States increased, as a new cartel was there to pick up the slack.

Education Is the Best Option

Law enforcement is an important part of stopping the drug trade, but it alone isn’t enough. There will always be more drug traffickers waiting to replace anyone who law enforcement catches because of the kind of money they can make by selling drugs.

If the supply is going to be there, then the best solution is to lower the demand. While it isn’t easy, providing more drug education is a key factor in stopping people from using drugs. The best time to educate people on the dangers of drug use is when they are children, before they’ve had the chance to try anything.

One more key component is providing better treatment options for drug addicts. There may be plenty of Delray rehab centers, but that’s the exception, not the rule. Many areas in the United States don’t have many options for addicts in need of help. Making drug treatment more readily available can help people overcome their addictions and stop spending their money on drugs.

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