Drugtrafficking is an issue that has been around for a long time and includes ahuge amount of people, many of them, benefit from it.
Drug trafficking, “is aglobal illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution andsale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws.” (UNODC) Since the1880’s there have been antidrug crusades that have tried to put a stop to theillicit trade. If we look back at how prominent this issue has been inpolitical life and the everyday life of Americans, we have a prime example ofwhen President Nixon launched an attack on drugs with his “Law and Order”campaign (Martha A Myers). This so-called attack on drugs has been repeated bymany more presidents such as Regean when he started a war on drugs because thepast ones failed to work. He failed to make much difference as well and nowwere at the point where these laws against the trade, are on the verge offailing. People of power, of high status, are trying to create laws that willuphold people of this trade to be morally responsible and become better people(Martha A Myers). Many questions that are imposed are as following: How muchpunishment should be enforced? How can laws be enforced that do notdiscriminate against race? How old is the person committing the crime, shouldthey know better? These important questions can help determine how punishmentshould be attached to these criminals of the trade. Drugshave been a problem in the U.
S. for a long time now and one impact they have onour society is the number of overdoses there are. Also, drug traffickinginterrupts the order of society by taking over many prescription pills.Businesses become affected by illegal drugs, when they become cheaper and morepopular than high-cost pills. Many of these illegal drugs have opioids in them.
Eventually, a prescription drug will become too expensive to someone thatregularly takes these drugs daily and they must turn to cheaper street drugs,but these drugs like heroin, don’t have labels for dosage. These heavily doseddrugs lead to overdoses. The United States is experiencing an epidemic of drugoverdose (poisoning) deaths. Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoseshas increased 137% (CDC).
One of the deadliest drugs that is taking lives areopioids, 28,647 people died from heroin overdose in 2014 (CDC). Heroin is adangerous drug the world consumption of this drug is 340 tons and it can beeasy to overdose on as majority of the public do not know how dangerous acertain drug can be, majority are users because it is impossible to kick afterstarting (UNODC). The drug trafficking industry however, don’t care about theeffects that drugs have on people it is all about making a living for them. Theglobal market in drug trafficking has an estimated annual global value ofbetween $426 billion and $652 billion (USD), making it a close second in thelucrative illicit market measured after that of counterfeit and pirated goods,which is estimated to generate as much as $1.13 trillion annually (Talkingdrugs.org).This illegal industry is making tons of money by selling drugs to many people,majority of which are a lot poorer that are looking for cheaper drugs to helptake care of pain that would otherwise linger. Duringthe last two decades there has been interest concerning a possibility thatthere is a relationship between drugs and violence.
In addition to the mostlymisguided attention in mass media and in political circles to the relationshipbetween illegal drugs and, a number of empirical studies have attempted todisentangle the associations between alcohol, drugs, and violence (Alcohol,drugs, and violence). According to the article Alcohol, Drugs, and Violencethere is no suggested evidence that there is any relationship between drug useand violence. Although there is nostrong relationship between taking drugs and committing violence, according tothe Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of crime related drugs in 2004 was17%, and this number was of people committing crimes to obtain drugs. There isa lot of money that can be earned in the drug trafficking industry, that is whyit may look as a great thing for young people fresh out of school looking tomake money get into it.
However, this is not the case, as the majority ofpeople that are in the business are lower or medium sellers. Which basicallymeans they sell to friends and are only holding onto no more than 100 kilos ofmarijuana or single ounces of cocaine at a time (pp 195-207). The dream ofmaking a living in this industry is only true for some and those people handlethe producing and transferring of these drugs can make up to half a million inrevenue. According to Shifts and Oscillations inDeviant Careers: The Case of Upper-Level Drug Dealers and Smugglers, ajournal article, there are three levels into getting into upper levels of drugdealing. One way is to start as a low-level dealer then work your way to thetop which seldom happens. Second, would be people that start at a middle leveland work their way to the top tier. A third way of getting to drug traffickingwould be by being recruited because of special skills.
Drug trafficking andsmuggling careers are temporary and fraught with many multiple attempts atretirement (pp195-207). Drug trafficking can disrupt society in many ways whichcan lead to different views on how it can be viewed and harm society indifferent circumstances. Drugtrafficking attacks structural functionalism because it goes against socialnorms and affects the solidarity of a society. A society under structuralfunctionalism is treated as an organism and if one organ isn’t workingproperly, for example drug trafficking, it can create a disruption of the”body” or the society as a whole. The money that is earned can be coined as”dirty money”, which can disrupt society by being earned in an unacceptableway. Also, with the number of overdoses that are happening can create for aloss of workforce, which can disrupt the complex system in which structuralfunctionalist societies work in.
It can also create for an unsafe environmentin many different parts of the world where major drug trafficking takes place,but it affects stability of a society. Drug trafficking can be examined throughstructural functionalism in many ways. One important aspect of structuralfunctionalism would be deviance. Emile Durkhiem has four functions of deviance (Erger).
The first one is that it affirms cultural values and norms. Drug traffickingattacks societal norms by breaking the rules and expectations by which asociety guides the behavior of its members. The second function would be theresponse to deviance, which clarifies moral boundaries. The members of asociety need to respond to drug trafficking to maintain themselves morally.
A response to deviance promotes social unityis the third function. To strengthen the society, it is important that themembers respond to this illicit drug trade, so that they can advance andpreserve unity. The last but one of the most important functions is thatdeviance will encourage social change. The more deviant of a crime, the moreempowering it becomes on society. A small petty crime won’t have much impactbesides the smaller communities in which they are happening in. While crimessuch as drug trafficking is discussed globally. According to the Shifts andOscillations in Deviant Careers: The Case of Upper-Level Drug Dealers andSmugglers, veteran drug traffickers quit their occupation because of theambivalent feelings they develop toward their deviant life. Eventually, aperson actions will catch up with them either by being turned in by society andincarcerated or reflect on themselves and change their lifestyles.
However,some people may have a social stigma according to Erving Goffman, who suggestedthat a deviant career could create a stigma, where a person is looked down uponby a society based off a certain attribute (John J. Macionis). RobertMerton was famous for making some important refinements to the functionalistthinking. He helped to distinguish the difference between manifest and latentfunctions, which can be used to examine drug trafficking. Also, there are 5categories, which are based off of Merton’s strain theory, where a person isplaced into based off their actions (Erger 2017). Drug trafficking can be seenas a kind of innovation because although a drug trafficker may follow culturalbeliefs and goals, they are still doing so in an unacceptable way according toa society. A manifest function of drug trafficking would include affirmingcultural values of deviance, clarifying moral boundaries and promoting socialunity, which are Durkheim’s first three functions of deviance.
Manifestdysfunctions would include lower confidence in society in being able to keepcrime rate down. The latent function would potentially be more jobs in lawenforcement to decrease drug trafficking. A latent dysfunction of drugtrafficking would be that it could lead to even bigger crimes, such as sextrafficking for example. Merton also had another theory which was the middlerange theory (Macionis). This theory is where a society is evaluated and thenif the dysfunctions of a society outweigh the functions then there will be asocial change.
Drug trafficking has changed society in many ways by the lawsare made and how people are viewed. A structural functionalist society is verycomplex and depends on solidarity and stability. Drug trafficking isthreatening the norms of society by going against what many people believe in.There is a lot of deviance that is involved in getting into the producing andtrading of drugs, which can ultimately have an impact of society as a wholethrough overdoses, illegal making of money and illegal jobs that are created. Ifwe look at how opioids are affecting society we can see that is affecting themajority of society as a whole because, it is taking thousands of people out ofthe workforce which can create for an unbalanced force. According to the CDC,28,000 died in 2014 alone, from opioids.
This is becoming an epidemic that canhurt the natural balance of society and structural functionalism. The devianceof drug trafficking can affect many people’s views on society, they can startto see our society as failing, because its been issue for so long and there hasyet to be a dent put into the industry. Drugtrafficking in conflict perspective has a different view on how this illicittrade takes place. The conflict perspective focuses on the struggle betweengroups engaging in conflict for limited resources. If we look at how Marx viewssociety and capitalism we can see a huge difference between the rich and thepoor. When we focus on big companies against drug trafficking we can see thatthose big companies are above the law.
This is not to say that drug traffickingisn’t an issue, but big companies also do illegal things. They just have more protectionwith laws in place that they most likely helped to support. Unfortunately, thepower elite has been known to help pass laws that can protect them and make lifeeasier for them to make more money (Macionis). The conflict theory also focuses on race as anissue in society and difference in social position.
For example; a study wasdone by Sharon E. Moore who focused on black males with addiction to drugs andtheir involvement in drug trafficking. In this study the author uses Karl Marx’s theory of capitalism toexplain how the process works. Marx states that what is really going into blackpeople being involved in drug trafficking, with drugs such as heroin is labor power.Capitalism in drug trafficking is between two competitors that are alwaystrying to undermine the other with better prices on their products. Even inthis industry, larger businesses have more resources and can take over smallbusiness very easily.
This creates the idea that, “capitalism is built on thecontrol over work and the economy and the daily oppression of labor”(Tucker, 1978, p. 204). Drug trafficking can be viewed as capitalistic and includestwo classes: the proletariat and bourgeoise (Moore).
This view has some conflictwith how we view society in that we thought of big companies as the elite anddrug trafficking as the poorer classes. In this case its not about the money thatis produced but its about the image each one has on society. Also, it isimportant to understand that drug traffickers can not easily defend themselvesthe way that big pill companies can. In the case of drug addicts, the dealersare the power elite, and the working class are the addicts that buy the drugs.This model appeals to Marx’s capitalism theory, because the labor class aredependent on the elite and need the products from them. In this example, heroinas used as the “opium of the masses” and states that without each other boththe elite and the labor class could not exist (Moore). Thereis a huge appeal that brings many black males into the industry that may come forpoor economic backgrounds and see that there is a lot of money to be made.There are examples of a man making $20,000 a week and another making only $1,200a week which is a tremendous amount of money (Moore).
However, these large sumsof money are nowhere near to the amount a drug lord makes and that can upset someblack males in the industry that want to make more. In addition, this theoryhelps explain that young black males are a part of this illegal trade foreconomic survival (Sharron E. Moore). Through the American advertising thingsare being imposed as being expensive and necessary and young black males lookat these materialistic items and needed to live the “good life” and theAmerican dream. “From the viewpoint of drug trafficking as an economicadventure, the young Black male may be led to believe that he will be able toprovide for the basic necessities as some of the luxuries of life through theprofits gained via the distribution of drugs” (Sharron E. Moore).
This studylooked into how different races have either an advantage or disadvantage insociety according to the conflict theory. This also gives into the raceconflict theory which focuses on inequality and conflict between races. Thistheory shows how people of different races and ethnic groups such as AfricanAmerican and Hispanics, could be more susceptible to drug trafficking thanthose of the “elite” or the “white and powerful.” This example from the study,shows how black males from poorer economic backgrounds would be more likely toturn to this industry to find a solid source of income. The conflict theory ondrug trafficking shows how the rich, which are the drug lords, make a ton more moneythan the labor force which in this case are the poorer black male street sellers.
This leads to conflict within the industry as people are always looking to moveup and down the capitalist ladder to be at the top and make the most money.