The war on drugs has motivated authorities to pursue a zero tolerance of illicit drugs being possessed, sold or made in our society. Washington’s approach stems from eliminating drugs from the source of production to seizing them before they reach American soil (Bagley, 1988: 71). This war is one that is impossible to win, due to various reasons including the corruption entrenched in foreign governments and drugs being the crucial funding for guerrilla groups.
Historical interventions of illicit drugs is attributed to xenophobic traits, such as the opium dens of Chinese men (Lang, 2008: 6) or the Asians importing heroin into Cabramatta. The war on drugs has been said to fail because it is “diverting intelligent energy away from how to deal with the problem of addiction, that is wasting our resources, and it is encouraging civil, judicial and penal procedures associated with police states” (Buckley, 2002:30). The impact of the heavy handedness of the law has seen “nearly 50 per cent of the million Americans in jail today” (Buckley, 2002:30) a result of continuous crackdowns on drugs, which appears to have made little headway in impacting the drug trade or amount of users.
Despite the billions of dollars being wasted to enforce campaigns on the war of drugs, perhaps for the reward of political elections and votes, there seems to be no end in sight to the closure of the drug trade.
The Columbia drug trade
It has been reported that Columbia earns more from the drug trade than any other country in the western hemisphere (Bagley, 1988: 70), as they produce most of the world’s cocaine, heroin and a large amount of marijuana (Pardo, 2000: 66). As a well organised criminal organisation, they are able to produce the drugs, smuggle and distribute it through their extensive networks, which span much of the globe. America in response, have attempted to “include programs of eradication, crop substitution, interdiction and enhanced law enforcement” on Columbian soil (Bagley, 1988: 71).
“Efforts to combat crime are hampered by corruption and the lack of government institutions in large areas of the national territory” (Bagley, 1988: 72). It is difficult to penetrate the drug trade when various violent guerrilla factions, in particularly the notorious Columbian Revolutionary Armed Forces, “an 18,000-strong drug-financed umbrella group” (Sweig, 2002: 123), have such a strong hold in the industry, as well as a hand in the corrupt governments. Deaths from fighting have exceeded 30,000 in the past ten years (Sweig, 2002: 123), making Columbia the world’s homicide capital.