Myanmar’s Heroin War Is Lost–Can America Be Next?

December 12, 2014 by  
Filed under Politics and Government

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heroinMyanmar (also known as Burma) has long been one of the world’s leading producers of heroin, and production of this opiate drug derived from poppies does not appear to be slowing. While the heroin export/import ration may have gone down after the 90s, that does not mean that production, import and export of the drug has stopped altogether.

Due to the fact that Burma is the second largest producer of poppy seeds, most countries can link heroin exports to Myanmar. The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime has tried cracking down on the country but it appears that we are far from seeing the end of heroin exports from Myanmar.

Controlling Where There’s No Control

Many of the citizens, police and civilians in Myanmar engage in heroin usage. The most common using grounds are cemeteries. The cemetery acts as a safe haven for junkies and social users alike. Many of the citizens of Myanmar contribute the lack of control of this drug to the fact that most of the officials use it as well.

Due to undercover investigations, many officials who set out to control the use have instead become addicted to the drug themselves. When police go undercover, it is their job to ensure that their persona is completely believable. There is no way to convince a dealer that you are a user unless you actually use the drug in front of him. The undercover investigators may have had good intentions to start, but they have fallen short of fixing the problem.

Heroin User Junction

The cemeteries in which the heroin users hang out are littered with addicts–many who end up as fatalities. Every day, there are more than five drug users discovered dead. The cause of death is almost always attributed to heroin overdose. The irony that users are dying in a cemetery that is filled with bodies of drug overdose victims is far from humorous. It is a travesty that needs to be stopped.

Opiates in the United States

Myanmar’s drug exports have touched many countries, including the United States. Many people fear that, if something drastic is not done soon, the United States will succumb to the same fate as Myanmar, if not worse. Heroin usage is a worldwide problem, and it is one that can essentially be the downfall of life as we know it.

According to recent studies, more than 50 percent of major crimes committed in the United States are linked to opiate drug usage. Statistics also state that over $480 billion has been lost due to opiate use, addiction and recovery. Those numbers include loss of wages, cost of hospital bills and even criminal justice system costs.

While the United States has significantly lowered heroin usage among its population, it is still an issue that needs to be tackled. The threat that the problems in Myanmar may be echoed in the United States is a threat that needs to be taken seriously. The war on drugs is an ongoing effort that is still in need of fine tuning.

Cryste Harvey has battled with addiction since the day she was born. From family issues to personal issues, she has seen many things, but she has taken the leap to be sober and to help inform others of the hardships, trials and tribulations associated with addiction. She is now a mother and wife, and she has vowed to help others on their road to recovery. With little to no help from her parents and siblings, she was the first person in her family to graduate high school and then continue on to college. She is currently working towards an English degree, and she hopes to become a published author.

How Mexican Drug Cartels Impact Our War on Drugs

November 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization

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Risk businessAs Mexican drug cartels expand their operations beyond drug, weapon and people trafficking, the United States’ War on Drugs will have to change. For example, Time magazine recently reported that the Caballeros Templarios, or Knights Templar, cartel located in western Mexico has gone into the business of mining and selling iron ore. This sideline is actually more lucrative than drug trafficking, though it finances the criminal enterprise.

Chaos and Murder Spawn an Active Response

In the period between 2007 and 2012, at least 60,000 murders were tied to the Mexican drug cartels. Although the Mexican government took a passive stance towards the cartels, escalating violence and tension with the United States has prompted a more proactive approach.

Since the election of Mexican President Felipe Calderon in 2006, government forces have been pursuing head cartel bosses and actively working to put an end to all cartel activities. Combined efforts between them and American border agents and drug task forces has brought about the arrest of many of the cartels’ highest members. The war on drugs has been long-standing, brutal and traumatizing not only to Mexico but also to the United States, who’ve also had to face their share of travesties.

Cartels Reach into the United States

Many cities along the United States and Mexican border report escalating violence from cartels. Some of the reports include home invasions, abductions, beatings, rape and murder. However, this violence does not only occur along the borders. In 2009, the Justice Department reported cartel presence in 230 major cities, including as far north as Anchorage, Alaska. In many small rural agricultural communities, the cartels force Mexican field workers to carry out their violent activities and use the migrant communities as a locale from which to operate.

According to recent Department of Justice figures, the cartels now have nearly a monopoly on drug sales and distribution in the United States. Thus, whether it is methamphetamine or heroin, marijuana or crack cocaine, the cartels are operating from the level of street sales up to the importation of large quantities into the U.S. American street gangs, always on the lookout for money-making opportunities, are also increasing as the cartels’ representatives on the street. These representatives go as far as use intimidation to get law-abiding citizens to launder money, provide safe houses and extort money to fuel cartel activities.

Expanding Enterprise

This monopoly means that the cartels control an increasing number of illegal and semi-legal international operations. One result of the Mexican drug war and increased surveillance and control by U.S. immigration and drug task force personnel has been to push the cartels into other money-making enterprises. Thus, the Caballeros Templarios entrance into iron mining and ore sales. Time magazine warns that this expansion indicates that the cartels are increasingly embedded in the Mexican economy and thus they will become more difficult to eradicate.

This expansion demands a rethinking of the cartels as simply drug traffickers and requires policies to shift. To police the cartels’ activities, the governments needs to focus on broader criminal enterprise violations. The cartels’ reach into the United States is eerily reminiscent of the rise of the American mafia through illegal alcohol production, running and sales in the 1920s. American history proves that defeating such criminal enterprises are not only expensive and time consuming, but they are costly in terms of lives and social disruption.

With the expansion of the Mexican drug cartels into legitimate and semi-legitimate business activities, they become more difficult to root out. As part of the economy in both Mexico and the United States, cartel operatives represent a clear and present danger to both nations’ social structure. With a divided political structure, American government appears stymied in their approach to thee cartels, focusing instead on policing undocumented immigrants rather than proactively attacking dangerous illicit activities and escalating economic entrenchment of cartel gangs.

Cryste Harvey is a writer, college English major and interested in drug issues in the United States. She is currently pursuing a degree in journalism and hopes that she will be able to have an impact on the War on Drugs. Having witnessed several loved ones suffer from the escalating drug issues that the United States is facing, her goal is to educate others on what is happening throughout the country.

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