The use of illegal drugs and abuse of prescription drugs in the United States has risen to epidemic
proportions. Beyond the loss of life from overdoses illegal drug use also leads to a variety of other
crimes. Those who use drugs commit crimes to obtain drugs and cartels and dealers commit acts of
violence on both sides of the U.S. / Mexico border.

In the 1980s the United States government cracked down on drug trafficking in South Florida. Since that
time the southwest border between the United States and Mexico has been the primary point of entry
for illegal drug traffic. Illegal drugs are brought across the border by drug cartels located in Mexico.
There are several different cartels that operate in Mexico. Some of them simply facilitate the movement
of drugs through Mexico to the United States from other countries such as Columbia, Guatemala, Peru
and China. Other cartels produce drugs and smuggle them into the United States. Mexico has seen
increasing levels of violence due to cartels fighting over territory and smuggling routes. The cartels also
use threats and violence to control local populations as well as government officials. The Mexican
government has made attempts to crackdown on the cartels with little success. The cartels tend to be
better equipped and better informed than the Mexican government. To add to the problem a large
number of the Mexican police force have ties to drug cartels (Valeriano & Powers, 2010).

One of the main drivers for the violence among the cartels is the large demand for drugs in the United
States. Once the drugs reach the United States, they are often delivered to gang members or organized
crime syndicates. These criminal organizations will often facilitate further violence in relation to the drug
trade. Rival groups will fight over territory to sell their drugs often leading to deaths of street level drug
dealers to send a message.

The spread of crime does not end with the drug dealers. Those who use drugs, especially highly
addictive drugs, will often times turn to a life of crime to feed their addiction. These are usually not
violent crimes. Drug users will often turn to theft to make the money they need. However, there are
cases of people violently attacking others due to the effects of a drug. One of the more notable
examples is a man in Florida that was high on bath salts that attacked people and tried to eat them (Tienabeso, 2012).

Combatting the drug problem in the United States is a complex issue. Many people seem divided on
what approach should be used. There are some camps that feel stricter border control and harsher
punishment for drug offenses are the answer. While others advocate opening places where drug users
can go to use drugs to keep them from overdosing and hopefully ween them off the drugs. There are
also arguments to make marijuana legal in the United States. I believe that a combination of these
approaches would be the most beneficial. We need to improve border security to slow down the
number of illegal drugs entering our country. We will likely never be able to completely stop them from
getting in. While it is unlikely that having places for people to legally use drugs will provide any real
benefit, because in the end all you are doing is enabling their addiction, legalizing marijuana could
provide some benefits in decreasing drug crime. By legalizing marijuana, you can diminish one of the
cartels largest cash crops and free up resources to focus on combating more dangerous hard drugs such
as cocaine, heroin, and meth. However, you should still place certain restrictions if legalizing marijuana.
Like we have with alcohol you should have to be 21 years old and not drive while using.


Tienabeso, S. (2012) Face-Eating Attack Possibly Prompted by “Bath Salts,’ Authorities Suspect. ABC News. Retrieved from https://abcnews.go.com/US/face-eating-attack-possibly-linked-bath-salts-miami/story?id=16451452

Valeriano, B., & Powers, M. (2010). United states-mexico: The convergence of public policy views in the post-9/11 world. Policy Studies Journal, 38(4), 745-775. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/docview/759604331?accountid=8289

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