Drug Trade Research Paper

3110 words - 13 pages

International Security
Research Paper
Nate Henneman

During the mid 90s, Afghanistan surpassed Myanmar, as the leading producer and exporter of opium in the world. Their rise has been attributed to the increased violence and anti-government organizations giving drug lords the ability to operate without much interference from the government. Afghanistan has extremely fertile lands, which makes growing poppy plants (opium is extracted from the poppy seed) very profitable considering the total opium market value is around $4 billion per year. The lack of governmental intervention coupled with the well suited growing conditions make Afghanistan along with other countries in the Middle East, ...view middle of the document...

Which leads me to the topic of this paper, why aren’t the efforts of the United States, NATO, and the Russian government having an effect on decreasing the drug trade out of Afghanistan?
One of the first things that came to mind when considering this issue was that there has been anti-drug operations carried out in other countries, which have resulted in significant declines in drug production. For example, Columbia, one of the largest producers and manufacturers of cocaine, which comes from the coca plant. When the United States partnered up with the Colombian government to solve the drug problem, they spent a total of around $700 million on aerial spraying of the coca plant fields along with paying farmers to convert their coca plant fields into growing other crops. It is possible for governments to solve their countries drug problems, but the one in Afghanistan has had significantly more resources poured into finding a solution but the opium production and trade continues to rise. My opinion to why I think that even through the frivolous efforts of these large organizations there has still not been an effect on decreasing the drug trafficking out of Afghanistan has mostly to do with the sheer size of the network. Afghanistan has produced on average from 2006-2012 somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 tons of opium per year, resulting in about 95% of the heroin consumed globally per annum. With a total market price of around $33 billion per year, this is one of the main reasons why farmers would rather grow opium as opposed to any other sort of crops (Numbers taken from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime from World Drug Report 2012). With a market that large and that valuable, the number of people tied to it could be incredibly large, and trying arrest or track everyone involved would take a very long time as well as countless resources. The war and conflicts occurring in the middle east at this time are also increasing the number of farmers living in poverty, so they are more willing to take the risks of opium production in order to make enough money to feed and support their families. All of these factors are just facilitating the opium market in Afghanistan regardless of the outside resources being put in to prevent it. Unless there is an strong effort from the governments of the countries being affected by the opium trade to really crack down and eliminate or substantially decrease the amount opium being imported into their countries, I do not think we will really be able to make a dent in the Afghanistan opium market. The theory behind this idea comes from is that instead of trying to spend money on farmers trying to convert their crops or trying to spray the poppy fields with chemicals, if governments spent more resources on eradicating the opium problem from their own countries, for example Russia, then the producers in Afghanistan would have very few people to sell to leading to a massive decrease in the market.
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