Smuggling Weapons, Drugs & People across the International Border
Smuggling, as an illegal transportation and transition of goods, weapons and people across the international border is a serious crime that has always been at the center of attention of the police. Violation of laws on this level endangers the safety of state and society. This crime could be dangerous according to goods and things that are smuggled. This essay will be about smuggling weapons, drugs, and people across the international border. In this paper we will try to cover such questions as popularity of this problem, smuggling characteristics and prospects of controlling this type of political crime, causes of this problem and which challenges stand by smuggling. Also we will describe punishment and resources that are needed for the smuggling control, potential unintended consequences to implementing these solutions and what benefits does solving this problem have for society and state itself.
To understand the problem, first of all we need to define the notion of smuggling and describe its main characteristics. Smuggling is an illegitimate transmits of different things across the international border. Motives of such operations differ upon the material that is transported. They can be connected with illegal drug trade, immigration and emigration from country to country, contraband and goods that have been theft. Smuggling has been a common operation since first control of traffic was created. For example, even in medieval ages, smuggling was being in trend since exporting high taxed goods and materials. Concealing of goods and people on the border involves hidden objects or even transport itself. Since this procedure became nowadays common and debugged by traffickers and perpetrators, strategies have expanded in size and became trickier. To understand how this system works, we will now describe its main types and punishment according to the law.
The most cases of smuggling are met while goods are transported from country to country. People have always evaded from taxes and additional penalties. Avoiding paying taxes for goods, people have been transported different goods from country to country exploiting different methods and tactics. While such an illegal action could be thought as one of the lesser crimes, smuggling of illegal goods themselves can lead to much more harsh penalties and even imprisonment. Nevertheless, the public attitude towards the smugglers and contraband had a considerable effect on the profitability of smuggling that result in its popularity on different levels (Kenneth Hipper, 2003).
Drug trafficking and the smuggling of weapons are widespread. A smuggler during such operations faces with many risks of civil and criminal penalties and harsh policies if they are caught during such operations. The profits from such goods are extensive, and contrabandists, knowing about possible consequences find different solutions for their operations. Speaking about smuggling in the United States, we can say, that illicit drugs that are available in the U.S. and thousands of immigrants are transported across the nearly 2,000-mile Southwest border, including through the Tohono O'odham Reservation (U.S. Department of Justice, 2010).
Drug Trafficking and Distribution
Illegal drug trafficking is a global black market that specializes on distribution and sale of different drugs including opiates,cannabioids, dissotiatives, alcohol, tobacco etc. This trade, with drug cultivation and manufacturing is a subject of drug prohibition laws. While smuggling is a popular way to transport drugs, consumption of illegal drugs is widespread globally. Drug trade and their distribution on the black market provide a good source of money for contrabandists.
Drug smuggling in many countries carries severe penalties. They are much harsher than transition of other goods, as they are not illegal themselves. Drug contraband can lead to incarceration, flogging and long term detention. In some countries, such as Singapore and Malaysia, drug smuggling is a severe criminal offence that punished by the death penalty. "In December 2005, a 25 year old Australian drug smuggler was hanged in Singapore" (Godwin, 2005). Drug contraband is thought to be the most serious and harshly punished offence in every country in the world. Nevertheless, length of commitment always depends on the type of drug and its quantity that is transported. Also, the type of sentence relies on quality of the drug and its final destination where it must be distributed. When drugs are going to be sold to teenagers, that are underage penalties and policies work more strictly not regarding the type and quantity of drugs.
Contraband of drugs is considered to be a political crime, because it affects publicity and increases social instability. Drug trafficking is considered as one of the major threats to international peace and security. International organized crime affairs, such as smuggling of forbidden items result in undermining security in many countries and regions that evolve the most influential threats to political and social stability, rules and regulations of the country, human rights and economic development. "The farm-gate value of opium production alone in Afghanistan is equivalent to around 10 per cent of the country's GDP. Opium, therefore, forms a significant part of the Afghan economy and provides funding to terrorism and the insurgency, while fuelling corruption. This situation cannot last forever. The time has come for a more result-oriented response to this challenge; a response which is based on concrete action and shared responsibility" (Fedotov, 2011).
Speaking about American drug control, we can say that in recognition of that global challenge and as guardian of the United Nations conventions on corruption, drug control and transnational organized and systemized crime, UNODC keeps raising awareness and mobilizing multilateral action regarding this problem (UNODC, 2011). United Nations organizations, such as the Department of Political Affairs and World Health Organization, always try to collaborate with other different organizations to prevent possible increase in drug smuggling. Nowadays there are many developed anti contraband programs in Africa and Asia that help to prevent possible affairs from country to country. Reducing the supply of drugs by such organizations as UNAIDS, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UNODC, they also focus on prevention of drug addiction and demand of this product in the society.
The influence of such a distribution from country to country has a serious impact on the state economics. "Organized crime has a particularly vicious impact on the state if it can create strong bonds with larger segments of the population than the state can. Many people around the world in areas with an inadequate or problematic state presence, great poverty, and social and political marginalization are dependent on illicit economies for their livelihood" (Felbab-Brown, 2012). The thing is in the ability of drug market to create its own social group with employers and employees with an opportunity to move on their marginal social ladder. Such an alternative group has the same rules as in normal society. With its own rules and regulations it becomes independent structure that affects economy of a country.
As drug trafficking and distribution is a problem of drug addiction and health, there is a need to develop a strong system of drug control and to create different conventions that help society to reduce amount of addictive individuals. Nevertheless, smuggling of drugs could hardly be reduced completely, as there is no way to stop drug creation and consumption. "Policies that focus on suppressing drug flows are often ineffective in suppressing organized crime. Under the worst circumstances, such as in Mexico or Afghanistan, policing policies, such as high-value targeting or eradication of illicit crops, can trigger intense criminal violence or strengthen insurgencies. But neither is legalization an effective shortcut to law enforcement" (Felbab-Brown,2012). "Intensified counterdrug operations, in addition to intracartel and intercartel warfare and plaza competition, have resulted in unprecedented violence in northern Mexico and the potential for increasing violence in the United States"( U.S. Department of Justice, 2010). Moreover, illegal drug economy can be met everywhere and it affect the society inside the country and on the international level. For example, Mexico and the United States have strict borders on the north not to let drug trade to corrupt state institutions and to decrease possible acts of violence in those areas.
Police and governmental control can partly prevent drug distribution, but this system cannot work perfectly as any other. US drug market could be hardly controlled and calculated by the number of dealers because in most cases they work behind closed doors and all over the internet. Such methods are also popular in Latin America and Hong Kong. Because of the hidden market strategies, police cannot completely solve the problem of drug smuggling or distribution. Only by an increase of awareness of the population, this crime can be partly reduced and controlled. The problem lies not just in the fact of contraband, but in drug popularity among the society. With a help of drug addiction control, violence can become less common, and drug supply will reduce itself. Smuggling is a political crime in a way that it leads to social harm in that many people subjected to smuggling and goods are distributed among the whole region. In such way, smugglers violate their own rights and rights of innocent people who consume their products that where illegally transported. Such products can be bought by people who do not the origin of goods that are transported.
Smuggling of Weapons
Illegal arms trade is contraband of weapons across the international border. This type of crime is also considered as a political one because of the threat that they can create to the society. Weapon and ammunition contraband, depending on illegal or legal goods, leads to different penalties according to local and national policies and governmental laws. Gunrunning is distinguished by the type of the weapon - small arms for individual use and light weapons for the group of people. More broadly, according to the Report of the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms, we can say that most recent international initiatives in the area of an illicit weapon trade also address illegal manufacture, acquisition, possession, use and storage of different arms and ongoing materials (UN Document, 1999).
Smuggling of weapons is less spread than drug contraband, because it is popular only in the regions of political turmoil, such as Pakistan or India, where millions of guns are distributed. A significant amount of weapons are illegally transported into United States from the Southwest Border region into and from Mexico. Nevertheless, amounts of such contrabands could be counted in hundreds. That is why, many institutions make effects to prevent weapon smuggling across international borders. Starting from 90s, such organizations as European Union, Organization of American States, Organization of African Unity, the Economic Community of West African States and some other have developed high-profile initiatives. "At the global level, two of the most prominent UN negotiating processes at the turn of the century relate to the development of an international "protocol against the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition" and preparations for an international conference on "the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects" to be held in 2001" (Greene, 2000).
International arms trafficking in many governmental institutions, that are tightly connected with such affairs is not a secret. Black market in this sector sometimes collaborates with the national military services that supply it with weapons and safe contraband routs. "In any case governments lack the capacity to do more than limit purely criminal activities" (Greece, 2000). International policies and declaration do not always serve as a reason to make crime control more severe and to devote much more resources for weapon smuggling reduction.
In order to prevent smuggling of weapons, state governments need to implement new policies and efforts to combat such an illegal trade. Prevention of illicit trafficking and enchasing control on legal weapon transportation with peace building and increasing of national consciousness are one of the most important steps against it. The program on illicit drug trafficking should include: social consciousness and strengthening governmental efforts to prevent a combat smuggling in arms, improved enchase of information and co-operation of different enforcement agencies. Moreover, countries should assist each other in order to strengthen legal systems and to control arms transfer properly. While a transnational crime is widespread, democratic governments become more sensitive to public concerns. That is why law enforcement and social awareness are the only ways to reduce illegal trade.
While weapon and drug smuggling are considered as a political crime, illegal immigration and emigrations thought to be a disputable question. The problem is in an inherent difficulty in understanding and characterizing the term "people smuggling". Cynical usage of the phrase in social media and in politics has led to the phrase taking on the meaning of criminal action. That is, people smuggling is a crime, carried out by men who exploit people who are often at the lowest point of their lives, charging them thousands of dollars to cross oceans on leaky boats and arrive at other countries, such as America and Australia in the hope they will find a better life (Kelly, 2010). Regarding people smuggling, a distinction can be made between people smuggling as a service to those wanting to illegally migrate, and the involuntary trafficking of people. An estimated 90% of people who illegally crossed the border between Mexico and the United States are believed to have paid a smuggler to lead them across the border (Ellingwood, Line, 2011). "In 2011, law enforcement officials began reporting that human smuggling rings on the U.S. - Mexico border were starting to use cell phones to guide migrants across the border. Previously, a human guide would lead the migrants across the border, who was paid $50 for each person they brought across" (Associated Press, 2011).
Phenomenon of Human Smuggling
Nowadays human smuggling is mostly the superstitious entry of immigrants into countries with strong economics, like United States, from Asia and Africa with a help of third parties. Human illegal immigration is much broader social phenomenon as other types of smuggling. Contraband of goods is an operation, that is a part of black market, but human smuggling is a part of complex social problem and discrimination. The thing is that according to Sheldon Zhang, transnational migration has always been a part of human history as people move away from their ancestral villages and townships in search of better economic opportunities or living environments (Zhang, 2007).
Social phenomenon of human smuggling became popular nowadays. Economical instability induces people to search better place to live. As a result overpopulation in developed countries undermines economics of a place where do people immigrate. Moreover human population has risen to unprecedented levels during the last century. Unemployment and poverty are the main reasons that expand the number of illegal immigrants. According to the statistics provided by the United Nations, about 175 million of people are currently living outside their native countries (around 3 percent of all the world population), and almost 10 percent of the state population in developed country consists from immigrants (Zhang, 2007).
Commercial and technical development enforced the number of human smuggling. Huge differences in salaries and living standards and conditions impacts on peoples decisions to move abroad. On the other hand, developed countries, such as Australia, United States and Western Europe have some benefits in accepting illegal immigrants. The thing is that cheap labor is always in trend, and foreigners seek for any kind of job that can allow them to stay in the country.
International cooperation against people smuggling and trafficking includes jurisdictional control over such actions that are listed in Convention and protocols of every country. Solutions against human smuggling can be divided into two groups. Some of them do not involve any severe penalties as there is no criminal action or organized crime. Another solution takes into account objective criteria that belong to the person who is victimized by the offence or the nationality or the residence of the offender (Ventrella, 2010). When there is an illegal action against the state, carries severe penalties and long-term imprisonment.
Combating with international human smuggling, countries government strengthens police and policies against trafficking. As such trafficking is preferably committed by criminal organizations, setting limits on border crossing and increasing surveillance, government reduces the level of unwanted immigrants. Internal policies must be introduced with external ones simultaneously as smuggling is considered as an international crime that needs control from both parties.
Talking about globalization, we can say that it facilitates smuggling and increases cases of human trafficking. Nowadays smuggling is one of the one of the most popular crime affairs. The problem stands in more open and porous borders for economic and political reasons. Moreover, every year more than 700,000 people immigrate for different purposes in countries with more stable economics. "No country is immune. The search for work abroad has been fueled by economic disparity, high unemployment and disruption of traditional live hoods." (FinancialEdEconomica, 2004). Trafficking became the new underground economy that grows from day to day. Trying to have financial and other benefits, people try to become residents of the country where they immigrate. With growing economics of such countries as United States and England, smuggling becomes more and more prestigious and highly evaluated affair. Opened borders facilitate immigration and transportation of illegal products such as weapons and drugs, but, on the other hand, strict control may lead to higher evaluation of smuggling, and to make this profession much more prestigious and unique. Globalization of economic activities increases migration and expands transnational crime that does shares common accelerator in economic globalization and technological change (Kyle D., 2001).
Speaking more globally about those three types of smuggling, we can say that illegal actions on the international level are usual and widespread all over the world. Black market usually operates in developed countries and countries with weak economics - it transmits goods from one region to another with reasons to make money or to distribute goods. Human smuggling carries different targets - in most cases people emigrate from their native country to find a job, even if there is a need to live illegally without any possible benefits or social stability. Contrabandists, acting as perpetrators break the law in order to make their business without extra costs or to sell illegal products that could not be transported legally.
To sum up, we should tell, that smuggling itself is an international crime that carries severe punishment according to the type and amount of goods or violations from the side of contrabandist. Smuggling is considered as a political criminal action that endangers safety of the country and undermines the economics. In order to stop or reduce possible illegal transmission and ongoing trade, governments should strengthen their policies and system of border control. Smuggling is the process that could not be stopped just by law enforcement. It could be done only with an increase of social awareness and economic stability and equality in different regions.