HomeNewsBriefDisjointed Land, Sea Interdiction Shows Political Nature of US Drug Policy
BRIEF

Disjointed Land, Sea Interdiction Shows Political Nature of US Drug Policy

CARIBBEAN / 24 FEB 2014 BY CHARLES PARKINSON EN

While the United States is increasingly protecting its land borders from drug traffickers with robot technology, coast guard cutbacks are leaving sea lanes unprotected, illustrating the disjointed political nature of the US drug war.

One of the latest technological developments being employed along the US border is tunnel inhabiting remote control robots. As highlighted in a recent New York Times article, the robots are used to investigate the vast sewage and drainage pipe networks that traverse the United States and Mexico border, as well as seeking out tunnels dug by alleged smugglers.

The robots join the fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles -- commonly referred to as "drones" -- as part of an increasingly high-tech battle against drug trafficking along the 3,000 kilometer border between the two countries.

Yet at sea the United States is facing the challenge of diminished resources being available to interdict drugs trafficked through increasingly difficult to monitor sea routes. As highlighted by a recent Associated Press report, the rising use of the high seas combined with major cutbacks in US Coast Guard and naval resources means only about a third of suspected air and sea drug shipments passing through Caribbean and Pacific trafficking corridors were stopped in 2013.

InSight Crime Analysis

The lack of coordination illustrates that the war on drugs is as much about politics as it is about interdicting drug supplies. While there is ample evidence that sea routes both through the Caribbean and the along the Pacific coast are becoming increasingly important -- with the latest AP report stating that the area of sea in which drug shipments were captured along the west coast of the United States tripled in 2013 alone -- the land border carries much greater symbolic importance.

Seen to represent the country's attempts to defend itself against not only drugs, but also illegal immigration and terrorism, the concentration of resources along the border could be taken to highlight how politics trumps law enforcement in drug interdiction policies.   

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Caribbean

Yet the fact remains that, even if resources were channeled according to drug shipment traffic, the sheer volume of drugs arriving into the country -- part of an estimated $60 billion domestic drug market -- means authorities will only ever manage to slow, rather than halt, the supply.  

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CHINA AND CRIME / 29 SEP 2021

Mexican geoduck clam populations are suffering as legal harvests are threatened by rampant poaching, which has driven the species onto…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 29 APR 2022

A US national who received smuggled AR-15 parts in Mexico and assembled the weapons for two of the country's most…

ELITES AND CRIME / 30 JUN 2021

The embattled governor of a northern border state in Mexico is touting the timely arrests of those allegedly responsible for…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…