The Fight Against Drug Smuggling

February 8, 1985

Report Outline
Anti-Drug Efforts
‘Source’ Countries
Intercepting Imports
Special Focus

Anti-Drug Efforts

Little Headway Made Against Illegal Imports

Each of the last four American presidents has come to office promising to plunge the nation into an international war. Each received strong support from Congress and the public, and each won some battles. But after nearly 15 years, the war against illegal drugs—especially the importation of heroin, marijuana and cocaine—has not been brought to a successful conclusion, and there are doubts that it can be.

Drug abuse and the enormous influx of illegal drugs continue to be significant national problems. No one knows for sure how many Americans use illegal drugs or how frequently, but indications are that drug use is rising. The government estimates that the amount of cocaine consumed in the United States increased by about one-third in just two years and that heroin and marijuana consumption also rose. Nor does anyone know precisely how much money is involved in the international drug trade each year, but worldwide it is into the hundreds of billions. The estimated street value of the heroin, cocaine and marijuana seized by the U.S. Customs Service in fiscal 1984 totaled more than $10 billion, and seizures account for a comparatively small percentage of imported drugs.

All heroin and cocaine in the United States is imported as is about 90 percent of the marijuana. Thus the problem for drug enforcement officials is not only to stop smuggling but to gain the cooperation of the countries where plants from which the drugs are derived are grown and processed. There have been some successes. The Reagan administration has cut back cocaine and marijuana imports into southern Florida, long a key entry point for illegal drugs. And the Customs Service reported record annual seizures of heroin and cocaine in the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, 1984. Moreover, several countries, including Colombia, the major supplier of cocaine and marijuana, have begun cooperating more effectively with U.S. drug enforcement officials.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Jul. 24, 2019  Opioid Addiction
Jun. 14, 2018  Opioid Addiction
Jun. 29, 2017  Drug Abuse
Oct. 07, 2016  Opioid Crisis
Jul. 19, 2016  Drug Abuse
May 02, 2014  Treating Addiction
Jun. 03, 2011  Teen Drug Use
Jun. 12, 2009  Legalizing Marijuana Updated
Dec. 12, 2008  Mexico's Drug War
Feb. 09, 2007  Combating Addiction
Jun. 02, 2006  War on Drugs
Jul. 15, 2005  Methamphetamine
Jul. 28, 2000  Drug-Policy Debate
Nov. 20, 1998  Drug Testing
Jan. 06, 1995  Treating Addiction
Mar. 19, 1993  War on Drugs
Feb. 23, 1990  Does the War on Drugs Need a New Strategy?
May 20, 1988  The Business of Illicit Drugs
Jan. 23, 1987  Experimental Drugs
Feb. 08, 1985  The Fight Against Drug Smuggling
Aug. 27, 1982  Cocaine: Drug of the Eighties
Jun. 11, 1982  Prescription-Drug Abuse
Jan. 23, 1976  Changing U.S. Drug Policy
Dec. 13, 1972  World Drug Traffic
May 27, 1970  Heroin Addiction
Jan. 27, 1965  Psychotoxic Drugs
Jul. 18, 1962  Narcotics Addiction: Punishment or Treatment
Sep. 05, 1956  Control of Drug Addiction
Mar. 28, 1951  Drug Addiction
Drug Abuse
Export Sanctions and Restrictions
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean