Improved production methods
The international drug trade was worth $400 in 1999 according to the UNESCO’s Management of Social Transformation (MOST). Many factors have contributed to this development such as high corruption levels, ineffective law enforcement, and weak state institutions but key among them is worldwide production where there is no longer specialization in production among few countries. For instance, in 1999 the Soviet Union was producing 25 times more hashish than other countries of the world while coca plantations stretched into Guyana, Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela from Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia (UNESCO, 1999). According to Shelley (2006), prior to 1994, the Cali and Medellin cartels dominated almost all aspects of the drug business in Colombia focusing mostly on cocaine. However, their arrest in 1994 led to the fall of their empire leading to emergence of more structured corporations to fill the gap left and sustain the ever increasing demand for narcotics all over the world (Shelley, 2006).
Producers of illicit drugs such as Afghanistan. Mexico, Colombia, Tajikistan, and Myanmar are involved in crop production or narcotics raw materials but depend on other countries to provide precursor chemicals used to complete the processing of illicit drugs (Shelley, 2006). Production of these precursor chemical such as acetic anhydride and potassium permanganate is legitimate in many countries such as China, the United States and European countries where illicit drug producers can easily access and import them. However, major drug consumer countries in Europe, South America, as well as the United States are combining efforts to impede acquisition of raw materials by illicit drug producers (Office of National Drug Control Policy, 1999). Producers of illicit drugs are investing in better and specialized cultivation technologies so as to maximize returns by reducing costs (Mansfield, 2011). However, these investments in drug production are not usually associated with high returns especially for small holder farmers due to violence associated with coca trade, frequent conflict with the law, and consumption of drugs by the producers too.
Improved distribution and trafficking techniques
The drug trade has gradually become a global industry in the past three decades since it does not have a national identity and it knows no frontiers. As international travel becomes easier in a gradually more borderless world, newly formed global markets for production and exportation of illicit drugs has led to an enormous expansion of the trade due to increased capacity of traffickers to deliver products to the market (Yong-an, 2012). The internet has become an important tool of communication and a busy marketing hubbub due to internet/online services that enable drug traffickers from all over the world to correspond with their customers and associates in far off places.
Advancement in technology used to detect narcotics in hidden car compartments and suitcases as well as highly trained sniffing dogs have led drug traffickers to develop and invest in lucrative ways of distributing drugs to users and abusers. According to Horak (2011), catapults were being used to launch marijuana from Mexico to Arizona while a 5600 foot tunnel was discovered that connected Mexican drug warehouses to California (Horak, 2011). In addition, traffickers are increasingly using regular people to transport drugs such as children as well as animals, which are implanted with drugs and later cut out when they reach required destinations. The current methods used to ferry drugs to markets are increasingly putting the life and health of mules at risk. For instance, a woman was caught with more than a kilogram of cocaine in her new and unprofessionally implanted breasts in a coerced situation.
Yong-an, Z. (2012) Asia, International drug Trafficking, and U.S.-china counternarcotics cooperation. The Brookings Institution Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies.
UNESCO (1999). The globalization of the drug trade April 1999 – No. 111. [online] available at: www/.unesco.org1most.
Shelley, L. (2006.) ‘The drug trade in contemporary Russia’. China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly, vol.4no.1, pp. 15-20.
Horak, M. (2011). Common drug routes from Mexico to Texas. Woodlands: Texas.
Office of National Drug Control Policy (1999). National drug control strategy: international drug control cooperation, United States Executive Office.
Mansfield, D. (2011). Global commission on drug polices: Assessing supply-side policy and practice: Eradication and alternative development. Working paper prepared for the First Meeting of the Commission Geneva, 24-25 January