The Prevention Of Drug Smuggling Into The USA Via Border Enforcement Efforts Essay Samples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Drugs, Border, Law, United States, America, Enforcement, Mexico, Government

Pages: 10

Words: 2750

Published: 2020/11/12

Drug trade is a lucrative trade especially when oriented towards export though illegal. Drug lord or barons run multimillion drug empires from the comfort of their heavily guarded residences in Mexico or Columbia, two of the biggest manufacturers of illicit substances. However, their profitable businesses are dependent on illegal foreign importers distributing drugs on underground consumer markets. In order for drugs to reach end customers, they need to bypass multiple obstacles in the form of border enforcement agencies and departments of the USA often operating in a joint effort or in league with foreign countries, on which territories criminal cliques are operating. Resourceful drug traffickers who smuggle substances across the border by using drug catapults, digging extensive underground tunnels, or taking to the high seas for a safer shipment delivery, which allows them to escape the legal consequences of their activities, which requires complex preventive countermeasures. It is for this reason that the USA takes border enforcement initiatives. What is more, drugs are socially and economically hazardous since they affect the genetic, physical, moral, and financial health of the American nation. The point is that drug smuggling into the USA requires complex border enforcement measures on the part of national law enforcement agencies.

Drug Cartelists’ Inventiveness Rationalizes Border Enforcement Efforts

Resourceful traffickers seem to leave the USA no other option but to increase border enforcement efforts, as may be deduced from the exquisite drug delivery techniques put to good use by Mexican drug cartels. Agents involved in border enforcement initiatives have discovered a tunnel with rail systems used for smuggling drugs from Mexico into the USA. The tunnel linked the Otay Mesa region of San Diego and drug warehouses situated in Mexico’s Tijuana. The discovery of the 1.800 underground tunnel allowed DEA officers to seize 20 million dollars’ worth of marijuana weighing 30 tons. Border law enforcers from the DEA, the UC Customs and Border Protection and other agencies have found at least seven tunnels already in four years’ time. The federal authorities managed to close down a narcotics-smuggling tunnel in Nogales along the Arizona-Mexico border that remained to be completed. No substances were retrieved from the tunnel. Nor did the federal agents detain any suspects.
Drug traffickers have also taken advantage of a catapult for hurling small bales of marijuana across the Mexico-Arizona border, which was caught by surveillance cameras of the US Customs and Border Protection. It is reported that a catapult has the capacity of hurling an estimated 4.4 pounds of marijuana at a time. The federal agents succeeded in seizing the device, a sport utility vehicle, and 45 pounds of marijuana. Drug smugglers have gone as far as to take to the high seas to bypass border patrol. Sinaloa cartel from Mexico has taken to loading marijuana bales onto vessels near the Mexican port of Mazatlan and driving them up to the Pacific coastline to California. At least 157.000 small vessels reach the American coastal towns, with drug smugglers hiding heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, and methamphetamine for their further distribution in American neighborhoods.

The Major Tendencies of the US Border Enforcement. Indictment Policy and Historical Successes

The American government is reliant on interdiction that includes border patrol and border inspections in attempts to bar the flow of narcotics. Border enforcement is believed to have become a central element of the interdiction attempts of the US government. The size of border enforcement agencies along with budgets has increased significantly. Andreas (2009, 51) exemplified the tendency stating that the funding of the US Customs Service allocated to southwest border increased by 72% in the years between 1993 and 1997 while the US Border Patrol size increased twofold in the timeframe between 1993 and 2000. According to Andreas and Nadlemann (2006, 168), this trend particularly holds true for the 2000-mile-long Mexican and US border, with border patrol agents stationed by the American authorities in Brownsville, Texas, in the late second half of the 1990s. Department of Homeland Security (2011) reported the number of patrol agents along the Southwest border to be in the region of 17.700 individuals.
The most resounding interdiction efforts made along the Mexican-American border are “Operation Brass Ring” and “Operation Hard Line,” to say nothing of the US military involvement, which reflect the effort of curbing the supply of substances to prevent them from entering the American market of proscribed substances. The policy places the primary focus on the border that is believed to be at the root of the smuggling issue. Interdiction policy, such as border enforcement prioritizes the supply aspect of the drug issue. Policy enforcers are working at boosting the price of substances so that it will put strain on their market availability and demand. The approach to the drug smuggling makes a lot of sense since individuals at the social bottom or the ones in the low socioeconomic groups are for the most part drug consumers, besides separate wealthy drug abusers with a history of hectic schedules and failed lives. Making the proposition scarce through interdiction policy and a series of border enforcement measures will make drug trade an unprofitable business to run, which is certain to make drug cartels extinct. With all logic that this policy carries, one should not rule out such factor as the corruption of US power elites, no matter how relative, raising the seemingly slim chances of drug business survivability.
Legitimate questions have emerged of policy efficiency for all the resources dedicated to interdiction attempts. In its 1989 report to the Senate, a General Accounting Office argued that interdiction had not lived to its original expectations in terms of the drug seizure impact on the smuggling issue. Rodriguez (1993) stated that, the participants of a Senate subcommittee hearing in 1993 opined that the policy of interdiction had not produced significant results any more than it would have any effect on the drug smuggling into the USA. Reuter (1988) stated that interdiction efforts had little impact on the consumption of cocaine in the USA. Rhodes, Hyatt, and Scheirman (1994), and Nadlemann (1989) found that prices on heroin and cocaine were on the significant fall over most of the 1980s.
Based on the amount of drugs seizures along the Southwestern Border in metric tons, border enforcement efforts over the period of 1996 and 2003 have contributed to the interception of marijuana and cocaine shipments. In the period between 2009 and 2012, the Department of Homeland Security intercepted drugs to the amount that was 39% up on the period between 2005 and 2008. The number of Border Patrol officers recruited by the DHS jumped from 9.800 agents in 2001 to more than 21.000 individuals currently on the staff. After all, interdiction policy may have proved quite useful when it comes to deterring the flow of smuggled drugs.

The DEA: Southwest Border Initiative. Its Topicality, Tools, and Successes

Based on the data presented by El Paso Intelligence Center, the better part of substances like marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine are smuggled into the USA across the Southwest Border. It is a documented fact that more than half of all cocaine along with large amounts of marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine distributed on the streets of American cities come across the Southwest borderline. Traffickers smuggle substances via all modes of delivery, trains, trucks, cars, and pedestrian border-crossers included. Narcotics reportedly cross the open desert on the backs of the so-called human mules or in armed pack trains. There are instances of them being hurled over border restrictive fences only to be moved quickly, whether by vehicle or on foot. Boats and planes find loopholes in the Mexican and US coverage and place narcotics close to the boundary for their eventual conveyance to America. Small boats operating in the Eastern Pacific and the Mexican Gulf make the efforts of outwitting the interdiction activities of the USA so as to convey their shipments straight to the country. If possible, drug smugglers seek to take advantage of corrupt state, local, and federal border agencies to help forward the delivery. The cross-border traffic derives benefit from the booming trade between Mexico and the USA that makes it difficult to thwart traffickers.
Since 2009, the ICE or the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has dispatched a quarter of its operational staff to the Southwest Border. The number of agents assigned to the tasks of detecting, disrupting, and liquidating criminal organizations has become twice as big as used to be prior to 2009. The same is true of Border Liaison Officers whom the authorities have increased to triple their original number since 2009. Their duty is the facilitation of the interaction between American and Mexican law enforcement agencies. The interagency law enforcement coordination at the tribal, local, state, and federal levels has improved thanks to the establishment of the Southwest Border High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area under the aegis of the National HIDTA Program. The FBI, the DEA, the US Marshals Service, and ICE Homeland Security Investigations have earmarked the never-before-seen quantities of Federal agents to the Southwest Border. US Customs and Border Protection has raised the number of low-energy mobile imaging systems and large-scale imaging systems between and at POEs, or the ports of entry, along the Southwest Border.
The Department of Justice has put forward the initiative of earmarking an additional 100 million dollars for the SWBI for a reason. Hence, it comes as no surprise that the Southwest Border Initiative targets the most vulnerable area of the American national border, across which the illegal shipments of drugs penetrate into the country. State departments would not be pushing for extra allocations save that the situation was so critical. More importantly, the Southwest Border of the country is the major rally point for all narcotics moved illegally into the country and the major transit point for the eventual distribution of substances across the USA.
The Southwest Border Initiative put in operation since the year 1994 is a joint effort made by federal law enforcement agencies to fight the significant danger that Mexican drug trafficking cartels operating along the Southwest border pose. These organizations are believed to be delivering multi-ton cargoes of marijuana, methamphetamine, and heroin. Worse, Colombian drug syndicates allegedly hire the Mexico-based traffickers to smuggle the enormous amounts of cocaine into the USA. What attacks conducted in the context of the initiative target are the communication systems of groups’ control and command centers. The DEA, the US Attorneys, Customs Service, and the FBI all work in close liaison with each other by conducting wiretaps instrumental in detecting Columbian and Mexican cartels.
The strategic approach makes it possible for the Drug Enforcement administration to spot the exact route of drug trafficking from foreign cartels to their distribution place, which is on the American streets. The initiative together with binational task forces stationed in Tijuana, Juarez, and Monterrey have paved the way for efficient law enforcement operations targeting drug trafficking cartels of international proportions. To quote an example, “Operation Limelight,” “Operation Reciprocity,” and “Operation Zorro II” synchronized and supervised by law enforcement agents in the context of the SWBI have resulted in the detainment of 156 criminals and the seizure of 35 million dollars and upwards of 22.000 kilos of proscribed substances. Beyond that, the initiative has allowed reducing violence, corruption, and hostile contraband related to borderline drug trafficking activities. Obviously, the SWBI is an excellent border initiative, of which a wide range of achievements, such as smuggling reduction, is indicative.

The DEA Border Enforcement Teams and Measures

The Drug Enforcement Administration has a number of teams tasked with intercepting and reducing the flow of substances smuggled into the country. Southwest Border Staffing allows decreasing the smuggling of narcotics across the Southwest Border that remains the front line of defense against not only terrorism, but also substance trafficking. Tactical Aircraft Section is in charge of buying, maintaining, and operating helicopters enabling interdiction operations in the area of drug transit, such as the deployment of Foreign-deployed Advisory and Support Team, and the elimination of land, maritime, and air dangers posed by drug smuggling. Strategic Drug Flow Enforcement Operations include one extra Operational All Inclusive deployment on a yearly basis, which is the major successful and large-scale operation of Drug Enforcement Administration conducted in the transit, source, and arrival area. FAST Expansion is the measure that increase the number of Foreign-deployed Advisory and Support Teams in order to provide aid to the host nation counterparts of the DEA in South, Central America and the Caribbean where USA-bound narcotics are transited or manufactured.

Concluding Remarks

Drug trade is a dangerous illegal business that erodes the social structure of whatever country, in which it operates. To reduce the adverse effect of substance abuse, the USA is increasing its border enforcement initiatives developed to strangle the flow of proscribed substances smuggled for the most part from Mexican borderline towns and regions into the USA for their further distribution and consumption in American neighborhoods. The intensification of countermeasures has made resourceful drug traffickers to invent the news ways of safe drug delivery, such as drug launching catapults, underground drug tunnels, and maritime conveyance bypassing border patrols. The emergence of new tools is calling for the reinforcement of border security measures. To this end, the American federal government has increased allocations and the number of officers on the staff. For example, the funding of the US Customs Service allocated to southwest border increased by 72% in the years between 1993 and 1997.
The federal government relies mainly on the so-called interdiction that includes border patrol and border inspections. The most widely known interdiction efforts made along the Mexican-American border are “Operation Brass Ring” and “Operation Hard Line. One of the key tasks of the authorities is for the price on substances to reach high levels, which would make them unaffordable thereby decreasing the demand. While there is a measure of skepticism regarding the efficiency of the policy, the amount of drugs intercepted in the period between 2009 and 2012 by the Department of Homeland Security was 39% up on the period between 2005 and 2008. However, the major focus of DEA efforts is on the Southwest Border Initiative that targets the Us-Mexico Border, which is a critical staging post for drug transfer. It is there that Mexican smugglers use hurling devices and tunnels to deliver illegal shipments to Arizona and other American states. The FBI, the DEA, the US Marshals Service, and ICE Homeland Security Investigations have all stationed the unprecedented numbers of their agents along the borderline. The Southwest Border Initiative is a central preventive effort, around which the federal authorities build their law enforcement operations. Apart from targeting Mexican drug cartelists, the federal government and law enforcers also deal a heavy blow to Columbian drug traffickers who allegedly use Mexican associates for shipment transit.
The joint operations of American agencies and the Mexican authorities have resulted in numerous successful drug seizure operations like “Operation Limelight,” “Operation Reciprocity,” and “Operation Zorro II”. The DEA has also implemented a range of initiatives, such as Strategic Drug Flow Enforcement Operations and FAST Expansion, to name a few. Overall, the intensification of drug smuggling operations across the border along with the resourcefulness of drug traffickers requires additional border enforcement initiates on the part of the American federal government that often acts in liaison with foreign governments, such as that of Mexico. The implementation of initiatives has already done much to reduce the trafficking in drugs and the amount of substances end up on the streets of American cities. Much else remains undone thus far; otherwise, there would be no skepticism casting the shadow of doubt on the preventive efforts of the US border enforcers.


Associated Press. Drug Smugglers Take to the High Seas to Avoid Border Patrol. New York Post, February 24, 2014,
Hopper, Jessica. Drug smugglers Use Catapult to Launch Bales of Pot across the Border. ABC News, 2011,
Keck, M. “US Border Enforcement and Illegal Drug Supply Reduction.” Paper presented at PAT-Net Conference, South Padre Island, Texas, 2012. Texas: University of Texas at Brownsville.
Office of Homeland Security Press Secretary. “Progress in Implementing New Security Measures along the Southwest Border.” Homeland Security, August 30, 2010. Accessed February 14, 2015.
Office of National Drug Control Policy. “National Drug Control Strategy.” 1999. Accessed February 14, 2015.
Office of National Drug Control Policy. Fact sheet: Strengthening Border Security. Washington DC: the White House: 2013.
The United States Department of Justice. Strategic Goal II: Prevent Crime, Enforce Federal Laws, and Represent the Rights and Interests of the American People. Fighting Criminal Activity on the US Southwest Border. The US Department of Justice, 2014.
United States Drug Enforcement Administration. “DEA Program: Southwest Border Initiative.” Accessed February 14, 2015.
US Drug Enforcement Agency. “Drug Trafficking in the United States.” Almanac of Policy Issues. May 2004,
Wilson, Steven. “Drug Smuggling Tunnels with Rail Systems Discovered under US Border with Mexico.” The Telegraph, April 5, 2014,

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