The General Assembly One Disarmament and International Security. The question of combatting illegal drug trade in South and Central America

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1 Forum: Issue: Student Officer: Position: The General Assembly One Disarmament and International Security The question of combatting illegal drug trade in South and Central America Ye Lim YU President of the General Assembly Introduction Trade in drugs of abuse such as cocaine, heroin and amphetamines (synthetic stimulants) has long been a frustrating feature of the international scene. After attempting for years to combat the drug trade on an individual or bilateral basis, nations have belatedly come to realize that coordinated international action is the only effective way to restrain the trade and, in addition, that social and other broad action is the only means to reduce incentives to participate in it. Drug trafficking is the most wide spread and lucrative organized crime operation in the United States, accounting for 40% of the country s organized crime activities and generating an annual income of about $110 billion. Drug trafficking is unique in a way because it may be located throughout both intra-regional and inter-regional for a nation. Each year the world consumes over six hundred metric tons, and of the six hundred tons, about 85% of the cocaine is processed and distributed from South America, making it the world s largest drug trafficking network. In South America, Colombia holds a majority of the world s production and trafficking of drugs, distributing over 500 metric tons out of the borders annually, accounting for three fourths of the world s yearly cocaine trafficked. Drug trafficking links to many drug related violence everywhere drug trafficking exists. From there were more than 20,000 killings attributed to drug trafficking organization in just Mexico. ) On March 13, 2010 there was a killing of a family linked to drug traffickers while the traffickers were on their routes. Nations must decrease the amount of drug trafficking, not only because of the violence, but also because of the understanding that drug trafficking is increasing the amount of illicit drugs throughout the international community. By the 1970s and 1980s, the international drug trade had taken on many of the key features we recognize today, the most notable of which are its pervasiveness and its scale. According to a United Nations survey, the worldwide dollar value of illegal drugs is second only to the amount spent on the arms trade. Estimating the value of an illegal enterprise carried on in dozens of currencies around the world is tremendously difficult, but the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention generally describes the production, trafficking and sales of illicit drugs as a $400-billion-a-year industry. Some of these drugs are produced and consumed domestically, but much of the drug trade takes place between states. Unlike the international trade in arms, however, which largely flows from developed nations that produce arms to less developed nations that use arms, the international drug trade has traditionally flowed from developing to developed nations. At the risk of oversimplification, cocaine production has dominated in Central and South America, while heroin has dominated in both Southeast and Southwest Asia. Research Report Page 1 of 13

2 Key Terms Plan Colombia: Plan Colombia was designed in 1999 by the government of Andrés Pastrana. The plan established a strategy to strengthen democratic institutions and thus building up a strong democratic government which can resist the threat of the drug traffic and its consequences. It wanted to reduce the distribution of illicit drugs by 50% within six years. It was also designed to help the country, in this case Colombia, to combat drug trafficking and terrorism. It wanted to promote human rights and the rule of law and furthermore promote the economic development in Colombia. Also the neighbouring countries Bolivia and Peru (and in smaller amounts Brazil, Panama, Ecuador and Venezuela) received financial aid by the United States of America, who were supporting this plan the most. Mérida Initiative: The Mérida Initiative came into action in 2008 and lasted until It was announced by the USA and Mexico. The USA supported the initiative with approximately $1.3 billion. Its aims were to break the power of criminal organizations, to strengthen the border, air and maritime controls, to improve the efficiency of justice systems, to end gang activities and reduce local drug demand. Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO): These organizations are none to end the drug traffic, but they are led by drug traffickers who have a big influence on the drug cartels. DTOs control the trafficking routes e.g. into the United States and they also have a big influence on the drug trade in Europe, West Africa and Asia. DTOs are very dangerous, violent and criminal. Aid package: An aid package is the setting up of an initiative, that helps those countries who are involved and who need special help from other countries and organizations because they cannot handle the problem themselves. The Andean Counterdrug Initiative (ACI) is one of those aid packages, which had to improve the fight against drug trafficking in Colombia and six neighbouring countries. Counterdrug Programs: Counterdrug programs support the fight against drug traffic. They support different drug prevention coalitions and initiatives to reduce illegal drug trade in Latin America and influence drug trade in the United States. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) The Drug Enforcement Agency was set up by the Department of justice and has its head office at the Jefferson Davis Highway in Alexandria, Virginia. It enforces laws and is responsible for regulations of governing narcotics and controlled substances. The goal of the federal agency is to immobilize drug trafficking organizations. Therewith it tries to implement the enactments set up in the Controlled Substances Act in Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Including 56 States from Europe, Central Asia and North America, the OSCE is the world s largest regional security organization. All member states enjoy equal status and decisions are taken by consensus on a politically but not legally binding basis. The OSCE serves as a forum for political negotiations and decision making in the areas of early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post- conflict rehabilitation. Research Report Page 2 of 13

3 Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) This initiative was established and supported by the USA. The CARSI wants to create a safe environment for the citizens in Central America. Furthermore it wants to disrupt the movement of criminals and contraband within and between the nations of Central America. The CARSI also wants to strengthen the Central American Governments so they are strong, capable and accountable. In Central American communities where the drug trade is very dangerous the CARSI wants to build up security and an effective state presence. Its ultimate aim is to improve the security and the rule of law in cooperation with other nations of Central America History In recent decades, Latin America has played a central role in several major global illicit drug markets. Multiple aspects of the drug supply chain take place in the region, including drug crop cultivation, drug production, drug trafficking, and, ultimately, drug consumption. Today, South America is the sole producer of cocaine for the global market; Mexico and Colombia are the primary sources of opiates in the United States; Mexico and the Caribbean are major foreign sources of cannabis (marijuana) consumed in the United States; and Mexico is the primary source of foreign methamphetamine in the United States. Marijuana and methamphetamine are also produced domestically Major drug crops in Latin America include coca bush, used to produce cocaine, and opium poppy, used to produce opiates, including heroin. Source zones for coca bush cover the Andean region of South America, particularly Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. Source zones for opium poppy include Mexico, Colombia, and to a lesser extent, Guatemala. Cannabis is cultivated in virtually all countries in the region, mainly for local consumption, but notable cannabis exporters include Mexico and Jamaica. Drug processing and refining may take place in source zones as well as along transit routes. Key chemical ingredients used to process coca bush and opium poppy into their refined, finished products, as well as those used to produce methamphetamine, are legally manufactured for legitimate industry purposes, but diverted clandestinely for use in the illegal drug trade.precursor chemicals are also imported from third countries like India and China.4Drug consumption in Latin America remains low, compared to the primary global consumption markets led by the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. In recent years, however, data indicate that drug consumption, particularly cocaine use, within the region has grown, mainly along trafficking transit pathways en route to the core consumption markets. According to the most recent data from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), increases in cocaine use have been reported in Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, and Haiti. These countries are notably located along major cocaine transit routes. The primary pathway today for illegal drugs entering the United States from abroad is through the Central America-Mexico corridor, roughly 95% of all cocaine entering the United States flows through Mexico or its territorial waters, with 60% of that cocaine having first transited through Central America.Traffickers appear to be using overland smuggling, littoral maritime trafficking, and shortdistance aerial trafficking to transport cocaine from South America to Mexico. A large but unknown proportion of opiates, as well as foreign-produced marijuana and methamphetamine, also flow through the same pathways. The overwhelming use of the Central America-Mexico corridor as a transit zone represents a major shift in trafficking routes. In the 1980s and early 1990s, for example, drugs primarily transited through the Caribbean into South Florida. The Caribbean-South Florida route continues to be active, and although it is currently less utilized than the Central America-Mexico route, some observers have warned that activity along this route may surge once more in the near future. As U.S. counter narcotics cooperation with Venezuela has diminished since 2005, Venezuela has become a major transit point for drug flights through the Research Report Page 3 of 13

4 Caribbean particularly Haiti and the Dominican Republic into the United States as well as to Europe. Elsewhere in the Caribbean, the Bahamas continues to serve as a major transit country for both Jamaican marijuana and South American cocaine. Besides going to the United States, Latin American drugs, particularly cocaine, are also shipped to Europe. An increasing percentageof drug shipments from Latin America to Europe now transit West Africa.The European Police Organization, EUROPOL, has estimated that approximately 250 metric tons of cocaine (between 25% and 30% of global cocaine production) from Latin America enters European markets annually. Drugs destined for Europe mainly depart Latin America via Venezuela through the Caribbean or via the eastern coast of Brazil. While Europe has long been the secondlargest cocaine consumption market after North America, UNODC reports that the number of European users has been increasing over the last decade as the number of North American users has declined. Latin America s central role in the illicit drug market stems largely from the Andean region s unique position as the world s only source region for coca and cocaine. Another major factor contributing to the region s prominence in today s drug trade is its proximity to the United States, a major drug consumption market. Underlying factors that have allowed drug trafficking to flourish include poverty, inequality, and a lack of viable economic opportunities for farmers and youth in many countries aside from emigration. At the same time, underfunded security forces and the failure to complete institutional reform efforts have generally left police, prisons, and judicial systems weak and susceptible to corruption. On average, fewer than 5% of murders committed in Latin America result in criminal convictions, which gives drug traffickers the freedom to act with relative impunity.10 The presence of insurgent groups involved in drug production and trafficking in some countries and geographical impediments to interdiction have. Key Issues One of the main aspects of this extremely complicated issue is the fact that national governments are finding it very difficult to manage non state actors. In Mexico, the war between the Los Zetas and the Sinaloa (two rival drug cartels) are severely hampering the safety and the economy of Mexico due to the fact that not only are they fighting each other, they also have a frighteningly considerable impact on the national government due to corruption and a blatant disregard for the law. In 2005, Alejandro Dominguez Coello accepted the post in being the police chief of the border town Nuevo Laredo, one of the biggest centers of commerce between the US and Mexico, and Coello was brutally murdered approximately six hours after he was instated as the police chief by the Los Zetas drug cartel. Mexico and the rest of the international community are having difficulty stopping the actions of these cartels due how far their connections reach within the national government. In 2005, 1500 of the 7500 agents of the Mexican federal agency known as the Agencia Federal de Investigación were under investigation for possibly being involved in criminal activity, and 457 of those agents faced charges. There is also the case of Victor Gerardo Garay Cadena, former head of the Mexican Federal Police who was arrested for ordering his police force to withdraw from entering the house of the head of the Beltran Levya cartel. It is also necessary to mention that these problems do not only involve Mexico, but multiple nations as well. Since Hugo Chavez severed diplomatic ties with the United States in 2005, his administration has been having a great deal of trouble managing Venezuela s drug trade, with Venezuela responsible for 41% of cocaine shipment in Europe. Venezuela has also been having trouble with preventing the smuggling, due to the fact that Venezuelan smugglers use small airplanes to fly over the Colombian-Venezuelan border. Peru has now surpassed Colombia as the world leader in the production of coca leaves. Bolivia s efforts in stymieing the drug trade within its nation are leaving its citizens in federal assistance, since they are getting so little considering the fact that Bolivia spends a great deal of money preventing the movement of drugs. The United States is also involved Research Report Page 4 of 13

5 in this issue, considering that there is corruption among their borders too. Since 2003, 129 Customs and Border protection agents have been arrested for corruption and in 2009 alone, 576 agents were accused of corruption. We must now divert our attention and take a look at the problems regarding the smuggling of arms. A point of interest regarding the drug cartels is the origin of the weapons they possess. Between 2004 and 2008, the Department of Justice s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives initiated a weapons tracing operation targeting the Los Zetas and they eventually found out that 87% of the weapons they possessed are of US origination, and they are coming from the states of Texas, Arizona, and California. Colombia s revolutionary guerilla organization FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) is responsible for trafficking assault rifles, pistols, grenades, and other types of weapons. This is more than just a regional issue, this is a global issue. Efforts must be taken in order to strengthen borders, reduce corruption, and working alongside with as many organizations as posible. Just as Ban-Ki Moon said at a Security Council sesión, The trans-national nature of the threat means that no country can face it alone. This fight requires acomprehensive international approach based on a strong sense of shared responsibility. States must share intelligence, carry out joint operations, build capacity, and provide mutual legal assistance Criminal Threats Well financed drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), as well as transnational gangs and other organized criminal groups, try to undermine the authority of Central American Governments. In Colombia and Mexico counternarcotics efforts have put pressure on DTOs. As a result, many DTOs have increased their operations in Central America, a region with fewer resources and weaker institutions with which to combat drug trafficking and related criminality. Citizen s support for democratic governance and the rule of law are weakened, because violence and the corruption of government officials rise. DTOs are increasingly becoming poly- criminal organizations, by raising money trough smuggling, extorting, and kidnapping Central American migrants. Approaches to Central American Security Central American Governments have tried to improve security conditions in a variety of ways. Governments in the northern triangle countries of Central America have tended to adopt more aggressive approaches, including deploying military forces to help police with public security functions and enacting tough anti-gang laws. To develop collaborative partnerships with countries throughout the Western Hemisphere the CARSI, Central American Regional Security Initiative, was formed. Originally created in 2008 as part of themexico-focused counterdrug and anticrime assistancepackage known as the Mérida Initiative, CARSI takes a broad approach to the issue of security, funding various activities designed to support U.S. and Central American security objectives. Drug war in Mexico The violent conflicts began in the 1990s and the early 2000s. When Felipe Calderon won the election and became the new Mexican president, the banning of illegal drug trafficking became one of the most important aims of his mandate. In 2006, 6500 Soldiers were sent to Michoacán to end the armed hostilities between the government and the drug pools. This event marked the official beginning of themexican drug war. Up to the end of 2010, were killed during that war. Major Parties Involved and Their Views United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Research Report Page 5 of 13

6 The UNODC is a United Nations agency, established in This agency is one of the most important agencies in the fight against illicit drug trafficking all over the world. The UNODC and all its member states try to stop the dangerous drug trade by supporting involved countries. They analyze the situation in affected countries, make research thus operational decisions can be made. They also set up treaties to solve the issue. Latin America Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 as amended by the 1972 Protocol The aims of the Convention are to limit the drug trade. This includes the import and export and therefore the distribution of illicit drugs and the manufacturing and production of drugs. Through international cooperation the countries want to deter and discourage drug traffickers. The Convention on Psychotropic Substances This Convention establishes an international control system for psychotropic substances. It is a response to the expansion of illicit drug trade and the abuse of the use of such drugs. The Convention introduced controls on a number of synthetic drugs according to their abusepotential and their therapeutic value. United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988 This Convention provides comprehensive measures against drug trafficking, including provisions against money laundering. It provides for international cooperation throughextradition of drug traffickers, controlled deliveries and transfer of proceedings Drug smuggling within the borders of Latin America has steadily been on the rise. Their drug trafficking not only affects the Latin American nations, but also the nations that these Latin American countries provide drugs for. Following the establishment of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration smuggling drugs into America became a skill, a trade. The trafficking exists because the drugs are illegal and their only means for coming into contact with illegal drugs would be on the black market. The United States has Declared a War on Drugs, doing their best to stagger the progression of the trade but the smuggling continues as those who work as smugglers perfect their methods of stealth. In the first decade of the 2000s, the U.S. government spent $9.9 billion on aid programs to help governments in Latin America and the Caribbean reduce the supply of illegal drugs coming to the United States. That is 48 percent of all U.S. aid, and 85 percent of all military and police aid, to the Western Hemisphere. All of the efforts created to stop all of the drug trade in Latin America has resulted in no change. When measured in tons, Latin America is still producing the same amount of cocaine and other similar drugs as it was 10 years ago. This policy has been a bust. The street price of these illegal drugs is steady and the amount smuggled seems to be satisfying the public who demand it. Even worse, the violence that can be directly associated with drugs in Latin America has never been worse. Drug trafficking in itself is a horrible trade, but even worse is the violence that is generally associated with drug smuggling. A prime example would be Mexico and the drug cartel wars that are currently ongoing in this nation. Thousands are killed each year in drive-bys and stabbings all across the border, yet many of these instances are failed to be reported out of pure fear from drug trafficking organizations. Often, many reporters and journalists get shot down, attacked and brutalized for trying to publicize this illegal trade. The drug cartels want reporters to stop covering them, leading to more innocent lives being wrongfully taken away. Drug trafficking is illegal, therefore it is known that it should not be done, but people continue for the profit, it is driven by greed. This greed leads to violent defensive smugglers who began to resort to killings in order to protect their trade. Research Report Page 6 of 13

7 Africa Until very recently, drug trafficking has not been an issue in Africa at all. Global changes and other conflicts have led Africans to selling and using this drug more recently. The drug trade in Africa is most commonly linked with civil strife, poverty, crime, etc like most other places around the world but one statistic is very different. Africa, even though is recent to the drug trade, still contains the lowest arrests and incarcerations for the possession, trafficking, and use of illicit drugs. In Ethiopia, between 1994 and 1999 only five arrests were made for the possession of heroin. Although, there were more for marijuana that year, this still shows the struggle that countries in Africa face when dealing with this problem. Most people end up bribing police or officials in order to keep their trade going which poses problems for the local communities. Many people that are poverty-stricken in Africa rely heavily upon the drug trade as their only source of income. The trafficking and selling of these illicit drugs is another problem faced by officials in Africa. For those that are not bought out by drug lords, there are simply not enough officials to stop and prevent this problem. The most present issue faced in Africa is that most shipments of illicit drugs to and from Africa are hidden in cargo shipments or smuggled aboard ship by professional smugglers. Cannabis, the most widely grown illicit drug in Africa, poses even more issues for the countries in these regions. This is because the governments do not have the manpower or jurisdiction to overlook and regulate where cannabis is being grown and shipped off to. One of the most shocking statistics is the fact that the age of people in Africa abusing drugs in falling and the number of women and children that are turning towards these illicit drugs is rising. Another frightful piece of information is that fact that heroin injections are slowly rising among drug abusers in Africa which is a problem because HIV/AIDS is already a growing threat in this region and heroin abuse would only help to transfer this disease faster. North America and Western Europe North American and Western European nations (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany, etc.) are the most common target for the trade of illegal substances. However, because drug smugglers can easily alter their routes and distribution points, these developed nations are plagued with a very difficult issue. In June of 1971, President Richard Nixon of the United States began the War on Drugs. In this, the United States and other incorporated nations declared to define and reduce the illegal drug trade by discouraging the production, distribution, and consumption of psychoactive drugs. In May of 2009, Cliff Huxtable, the current Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, stated that the Obama administration did not plant to alter the illegal drug policy, but would not refer to it counterproductively as the War on Drugs. The United Kingdom fights a very similar battle with illegal drug trade. The government of this nation created the Serious Organised Crime Agency SOCA in order to prevent drug smuggling as well as arms smuggling and human trafficking. SOCA recently intercepted a large haul of cocaine in West Africa, which has become a major destination for drugs that would be later smuggled into the UK. SOCA s Executive Director of Enforcement, Daniel Tanner, stated, We work to put serious criminals behind bars, and use many other tactics to fight crime and keep you safe. In particular, we want to ensure crime doesn t pay and that it s harder to commit. The North American and Western European nations play a large role in this debate, as their borders are crossed and violated. Because these nations have organized and developed governments, they are able to create organizations that can effectively combat the smuggling of illegal substances. Much of the funds and motivation for the prevention of drug smuggling will come from this bloc, and the incorporation of these nations into solutions will therefore be necessary. Research Report Page 7 of 13

8 Asia Since China has opened up their borders to trade, they have attracted a large amount of drug traffickers due to their massive population and numerous coastal cities. As they increased trade with other nations, so did the increase of the trade of illicit drugs. Criminal organizations have impoverished women and children body-carry heroin. The nations such as Japan, China, South Korea, the Phillipines, Vietnam, along with many others are spending billions of dollars trying to stifle the transportation of drugs and arms within their respective borders. As their economic prosperity increases, so does consumer demand of narcotics, sothis is becoming an increasingly bigger issue that these nations are very intent in solving. Research Report Page 8 of 13

9 Timeline of Relevant Resolutions, Treaties and Events Research Report Page 9 of 13

10 Previous Attempts to Resolve the Issue There are different ways and attempts to solve the problem of drug trafficking in Central and Latin America. The United States, one of the most affected countries, are trying the hardest to stop the illicit drug traffic. The USA try to convince all Central and Latin American countries to support their strategies and to work together, so the illegal drug trade can finally be overcome. The United States invested billions of dollars in anti-drug assistance programs, aimed at reducing the drug trade to its minimum and trying to strengthen the governmental power to stop the violence in the related countries, so that the citizen do not have to live in fear. Like the United States of America the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) wants to stop violence and drug traffic in countries all over the world. It sets up treaties like the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961), the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971 and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988 to stop the dangerous and illegal business of drug trade. Several treaties, conventions and plans were already made to improve the situation in South America. All of them contributed to the improvement of the situations in several countries. Step by step the countries strengthened their will to stop the violent actions of drug trafficking organizations (DTO s) and to destroy their basis. Not only North and South America try to solve the issue, but also European and Asian countries, because the drug traffic in Latin America has a great influence on drug markets on other continents. Organizations like the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) try to stop the drug trade in Europe and Asia and to establish security measures in endangered countries. Money is one of the most important factors in the fight against the dangerous drug trade. Every involved country in South America needs financial help from another country or an organization or convention, because they cannot handle the situation on their own. For example the United States of America actively try to help those countries by establishing a persistent government or by financially helping to improve the police training and equipment, so they can react and interact better in difficult situations. Since previous attempts to solve the issue are related to important organizations, treaties and conventions you can find possible solutions in those treaties and attempts of several organizations to stop drug trafficking in Latin America. 1. See Report of the International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Vienna, June 1987 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.87.I.18), chap. I, sect. A. 2. Ibid., sect. B. 3. Resolution S-17/2, annex. 4. A/45/262, annex. 5. See A/49/139-E/1994/ See A/49/748, annex, sect. I.A. 7. United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 520, No Ibid., vol. 976, No Ibid., vol. 1019, No See Official Records of the United Nations Conference for the Adoption of a Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, Vienna, 25 November- 20 December 1988, vol. I (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.94.XI.5). 11. Resolution 50/81, annex. 12. See Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1995, 13. Supplement No. 9 (E/1995/29), chap. XII, sect. A. 14. A/51/469. Research Report Page 10 of 13

11 15. See Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1996, Supplement No. 7, (E/1996/27), chap. XIV. 16. A/51/129-E/1996/53, A/51/436, A/51/437 and A/51/469. Possible solutions Policies that focus on suppressing drug flows are often ineffective in suppressing organized crime. Under the worst circumstances, such as in Mexico or Afghanistan, policing policies, such as highvalue targeting or eradication of illicit crops, can trigger intense criminal violence or strengthen insurgencies. But neither is legalization an effective shortcut to law enforcement. On its own, it is unlikely to address a host of problems associated with organized crime. Illicit economies exist in some form virtually everywhere. For example, some part of the illegal drug economy production, trafficking, or distribution is present in almost every country. Although the drug trade is widely believed to be the most profitable illicit economy, dwarfing others such as the illegal trade in wildlife or logging, its impact on society and the intensity of violence and corruption it generates vary in different regions and over time. Like Colombia in the 1980s, Mexico today is blighted by violence. But although many of the same drug trafficking groups operate in both Mexico and the United States, their behaviour is strikingly different north of the border where their capacity to corrupt state institutions is limited and the level of violence they generate is small. Indeed, what characterizes the US drug market today most of which operates behind closed doors, off the streets, and over the internet is how peaceful it is. Such variation is found in other contexts too: the Yakuza, even while dominating the construction economy in Japan, is far less violent than Hong Kong s tongs or Latin America s organized crime. Many things account for the variation in violence, including demographic factors, such as the age of criminal capos and the geographic concentration of minority groups, levels of poverty, the balance of power in the criminal market as well as the capacity of policing agencies and their choice of strategies. Beyond violence, the strength and presence of the state are critical in determining the impact of illicit markets on society. Political capital of crime gangs Organized crime has a particularly vicious impact on the state if it can create strong bonds with larger segments of the population than the state can. Many people around the world in areas with an inadequate or problematic state presence, great poverty, and social and political marginalization are dependent on illicit economies for their livelihood. Criminal (as well as militant) groups provide the marginalized population with employment and an opportunity for social advancement. They can also provide a level of security, suppressing robberies, thefts, kidnapping, and murders as well as providing informal courts, despite their being instigators of crime and instability in the first place. As a result, criminal entities can gain political capital with local communities. Research Report Page 11 of 13

12 Designing effective crime policies Without capable and accountable police that are responsive to the needs of the people and are backed-up by an efficient, accessible, and transparent justice system, the state cannot manage either legal or illegal economies. Reducing the violence associated with drug trafficking should be a priority for police. Governments that effectively reduce the violence surrounding illicit economies often may not be able to rid their countries of organized crime; they can, however, lessen its grip on society, thereby giving their people greater confidence in government, encouraging citizen co-operation with law enforcement, and aiding the transformation of a national security threat into a public safety problem. That can happen and many countries have succeeded in doing so in the absence of legalization. An appropriate anti-crime response is a multifaceted state-building effort that seeks to strengthen the bonds between the state and marginalized communities dependent on or vulnerable to participation in illicit economies. Efforts need to focus on ensuring that communities will obey laws by increasing the likelihood that illegal behaviour and corruption will be punished via effective law enforcement, but also by creating a social, economic, and political environment in which the laws are consistent with the needs of the people. Further comments from the Chair When you do your research here are a few things to keep in mind. 1. How has drug trafficking affected your country in the past? 2. How is the drug trade affecting your country currently? 3. Has your country done anything in the past to help regulate this problem? Research Report Page 12 of 13

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