Question: When talking about gathering Intelligence related to organized crime (and researching outside the assigned readings ) specifically how should a law enforcement and intelligence agencies go about doing that ?

Note: Please know there is no 100% wrong or right answer here (as there may be some conflicting views), only supported and or non-supported viewpoints ; for the academic arena, especially a graduate level class such as this, the former is what is expected. Please use at least one source of your choosing.

Original Post:

The commodity value chain of coca-cocaine is complex. Vellinga (2007) says that changes have occurred in the production and distribution of cocaine in recent years that have affected the trafficking of the drug. Coca-Cocaine is produced in Latin America, but the drugs are distributed to almost all countries of the world, with the most affected country being the USA. The commodity chain of Coca-Cocaine starts from the growing of coca and ends with street-level dealing. Vellinga (2017) claims that the conventional chain that was lengthy has been reduced by traffickers who have merged some sections of the chain to make more profits. The first part of the supply chain is the growing of coca. Coca is relatively easy to plant and does not require intensive preparations. The land is cleared in the conventional slash and burn method, and seedbed is prepared, seedlings transplanted, field maintenance finally harvesting of the crop. The growing phase is simple and does not require special skills. In many parts of Latin America, coca is grown together with other crops in small farms. The high returns brought by the crop makes it attractive to many small scale farmers in the countries in the region.

The second phase is the production of paste and cocaine. The paste is extracted from the leaves that have been harvested. The crop is processed in coca-processing laboratories. Peasants, farmers or drug cartels either own the paste and cocaine production facilities. Intensive efforts to eradicate the trafficking of cocaine have led to an increase in the number of small-scale dealers of the drug. When the peasant farmers engage in the extraction of cocaine, they earn more money because of the value addition. Besides, they get to sell the drug directly to wholesalers hence reducing brokers. After the wholesalers get the drug, they use traffickers to move the drug around the world. Vellinga (2007) says that the drug enterprises contract independent contractors who transport the drug and also engage in money laundering activities. The cartels of the 1980s and 1990s are no longer common since most drug traffickers are independent people contracted on a few times to transport the drug. The traffickers are paid according to the amount of drugs they transport and their countries of origin.

Modern traffickers have adapted to the legal system, and they operate with ease, and they have mastered ways of circumventing the legal system. Not all drug traffickers deal with massive kilograms of drugs. Vellinga (2007) asserts that since the 1990s, bodypackers, bolitos smugglers, and boleros have been transporting drugs to America and Europe. Most of the time, the trafficker is unaware of the owner and recipient of the drugs. The final step is the street dealers. The dealers are the final in the business chain since they sell directly to the consumers. Mexican drug enterprises control the whole process, given a large number of people of Mexican descent in the United States. Wyler & Coook (2009) says that the good returns for selling the drug in markets in the US and European countries are making the fight against trafficking difficult.


Vellinga, M. (2007). The Illegal Drug Industry in Latin America: The Coca-Cocaine Commodity Value Chain. Iberoamericana–Nordic Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, 37(2).

Wyler, L. S., & Cook, N. (2009, September). Illegal drug trade in Africa: Trends and US Policy. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress.

Legalization of all drugs would decrease drug-related violence and crimes

The legalization of all drugs will decrease violence and crimes. One factor that has propagated the use of drugs is the efforts by the government to destroy the network of drug enterprises. Aspinwall & Reich (2016), reveal from their study of efforts by the US and Mexican government to fight drug trafficking that fighting the drug enterprises in one point creates a demand in the areas that were previously supplied by the dismantled cartels. Past efforts by the US government to work with the Mexican government in curbing drug entry in the US-led to an increase of demand in the US side and Mexico, led to widespread production of the drug. The efforts aimed at reducing the production and selling of the drug disperses the producers who end up producing the drug in many parts of the country. Massive production and trafficking of drugs are difficult to manage since every producer has mentees who are working for them. Past efforts aimed at preventing the consumption of illegal drugs contributed to the violence that led to the deaths of many people. For instance, officials working for Mexican attorney general were murdered in 1990 by a section of the Mexican military. Aspinwall & Reich (2016) claims that the offices were murdered concerning the abduction of Alvarez Manchin by American officials on suspicions of involvement in the drug trade. A war that was intended to bring peace ended up leading to deaths in Mexico. The criminalization of drugs is not helping in reducing drug-related crimes and deaths. Therefore, the decriminalization of drugs can aid in reducing deaths and violence.

Scherlin (2012), claims that the focus of the government has always been disrupting the drug supply and making it unavailable as a method of reducing its usage. Different US governments have formulated policies on the eradication of drug trafficking, but none has achieved that mandate. The redundant laws for fighting drug usage have become redundant, and this calls for policy termination. Policy termination is about changing focus from prohibition to reducing the impacts of the drugs. One theory used to explain policy termination is the prospect theory. According to the prospect theory, perceptions of gain and loss influence policy termination. This means that people can only abandon drugs when policies that make the usage of drugs unprofitable. The legalization of drugs has proven to be effective in reducing drug usage. Marijuana was legalized in the United States for medical reasons. Even though skeptics argued that the legalization of marijuana would lead to more youths using the drug, Scherlin (2012) says that the arguments of the skeptics have been ineffective. Fighting the usage of drugs seems to make people consume it, and therefore policy terminations aimed at the legalizations of drugs are vital in reducing crimes and violence. Scherlin (2012) asserts that the legalization of marijuana did not increase violence among the youth. The legalization of other drugs might, therefore, reduce violence and the need to decriminalize drugs. Besides, a war against drugs had been a significant source of violence and deaths in the past.


Aspinwall, M., & Reich, S. (2016). Who is Wile E. Coyote? Power, influence, and the war on drugs. International Politics, 53(2), 155-175.

Scherlen, R. (2012). The never-ending drug war: Obstacles to drug war policy termination. PS: Political Science & Politics, 45(1), 67-73.




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