The United States Border Patrol was created in 1924 and today holds the heavy burden of identifying and preventing drugs from crossing into our nation. Funding for such efforts reached over $10 billion in 2010. As the United States continues to allocate resources to border patrol and drugs remain widely available, the question remains, “Is any progress being made in stopping drugs at the borders?”
Drugs Crossing the Border
The United Nations produced the World Drug Report of 2012 and clearly explained that most of the drugs in the United States originate from Central and South America. Mexico acts as a transit zone between the United States, the world’s largest consumer of drugs, and Central America, the biggest source of drugs. Highlighting this fact, the US Department of Justice estimated that in 2010 the Mexican border area accounted for:
• 96% of all marijuana confiscation
• 80% of all methamphetamine confiscation
• 64% of all cocaine confiscation
• 58% of all heroin confiscation
The US Justice Department reports that around $18-$39 billion dollars is generated by Colombian and Mexican cartels selling drugs in America each year. Further, in 2009 and 2010 cartels were running business in 1,286 American cities.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has reported a lower number of narcotics seizures at the Mexican border this past year. Agents admittedly only apprehend about 4 out of 10 illegal immigrants on most days, and the number of drug smugglers caught is even lower.
Limitations of Border Control
Even in the early years of border patrol, agencies quickly realized that efforts to inspect people and goods crossing the border were rendered ineffective due to a lack of border enforcement between inspections. Border control agents are faced with a number of limitations that prevent them from stopping all drugs from crossing borders. Such limitations include:
• Time constraints
• Agency corruption
• Criminal circumvention
• Resident resentment
• Lack of resources
Time constraints: Border patrol agents must check and inspect thousands of people daily. Congestion can quickly put significant pressure on agents to speed up processing and inevitably results in inefficiencies in processing. Agents are constantly battling to maintain a balance between being efficient and not taking up too much time.
Agency corruption: This profession, like any other, leaves room for corruption when personal responsibility is involved. Border patrol agents often maintain high levels of discretion and responsibility. One isolated incidence of corruption can render the entire framework of border security completely meaningless. Criminals are well aware of this and exploit the weakness when they can.
Criminal circumvention: High-level drug traffickers will assess the strength of certain inspection stations before bringing through large amounts. As one area’s security increases, criminals will relocate and find other avenues to exploit. As agents and technology become more sophisticated, so do the methods of law-breakers.
Resident resentment: Border patrol agents face the hard reality of protecting the border while trying to prevent resentment among the community members. It can be easy to get frustrated having to pass a checkpoint while driving to work each morning or face the daily congestion at inspection time. The community may even actively work against border patrol efforts in some instances.
Lack of resources: Gustavo Mohar, previously a Mexican immigration official, explains that even after investing billions of dollars in border control people are still able to avoid detection crossing the border. He explains that the government just does not have the resources to prevent drug crossings. Even as the United States dumps vast amounts of resources into securing the border, it is still not enough.
Successes of Border Control
Twenty-three federal agencies are responsible for intercepting drugs at our borders, seaports and airports. Southwest Border patrol agents were successful in seizing more than 5,900 pounds of cocaine and 2.2 million pounds of marijuana in 2012 alone.
Is Any Progress Being Made?
The Obama administration has taken a traditional approach to border security, but according to the National Drug Threat Assessment report of 2010 conducted by the Department of Justice, the availability of drugs is actually increasing. The report notes that drug seizures along borders are in fact increasing, but even more drugs are making their way through than ever before. It seems progress is being made in seizing more drugs but the battle to curb the drug supply appears to be a losing one.
Advantages of Inpatient Treatment
Inpatient treatment can assist you in curbing your personal demand for these widely available substances. Advantages of such treatment include:
• 24/7 support
• Daily routines and structure
• Find a community of supporters
• Absolute focus on the goal of rehab
Education and awareness can also be effective in helping citizens make the personal commitment to avoid drugs and alcohol and this will in turn keep the numbers of new addictions down and hopefully put a dent in the profits of those who continue to bring drugs across out borders daily.