This week’s forum examines the numerous challenges of combatting

This week’s forum examines the numerous  challenges of combatting the narcotics threat. From it, you will understand the difficulty in carrying out operations against drug traffickers. Respond to the following question:Compare the intelligence function and effectiveness of the U.S. counter-narcotics agencies with that of the narcotics traffickers.I look forward to your thoughts!Instructions: Your initial post should be at least 250 words.Lesson Challenges to Combating Drug TraffickingU.S. counter-narcotics efforts have had great successes thanks to effective policies and laws, efficient agency resources and capabilities, increasing cooperation among agencies and countries, and evolving intelligence collection and analysis methods and proficiency. However, these efforts are impeded by the determination of drug traffickers to continue and expand their operations. Impediments A primary impediment to successful counter-narcotics efforts is economics. Drug trafficking is profitable – very profitable. Drug traffickers from international DTOs to retail distributors on the street will do what they need to continue operations. When law enforcement finds a successful method of combating traffickers, the DTOs just change their operations (new route or smuggling method, use different chemicals to produce a drug such as meth, change communication methods). Consider how much money DTOs must be making that one of their business practices is to burn planes and sink boats and semi-submersibles after they have delivered their drugs. What legitimate business can endure such a large expense?DTOs have the resources to engage in counter intelligence on law enforcement activities, which increases the threat to law enforcement as well as facilitates their illicit activity.There is persistent high demand for the product. The U.S. demand for illicit drugs remains strong. As long as there are customers to buy the product, the DTOs will find a way to deliver it. This is why a major component of the National Drug Control Strategy addresses demand issues.   DTos have considerable influence in their communities that often enables them to carry out their illicit activities with little obstruction from citizens and often law enforcement. Corruption of law enforcement and governmental organizations, particularly in source and transit countries, is a significant problem. DTOs can afford to pay large sums of money ensure cooperation from law enforcement. Moreover, the amount they pay is significantly greater than what an official’s salary. Further, DTOs often threated officials with violence against them and their family, with makes if more difficult to turn down.A somewhat unstable world economy, including high-levels of unemployment in many source countries, provides DTOs with a particularly fertile environment from which to recruit individuals willing to take the risks associated with producing and transporting illicit drugs. Further, many individuals in these areas have no other economic alternative to making a sustainable living. DTOs frequently change their methods of operation to avoid counter-narcotics efforts.  This in turn forces law enforcement to continually change their operational methods, stretching the time and monetary resources available. DTOs change the smuggling methods to avoid detection and interdiction. When counter-narcotics efforts uncover a method being used, DTOs will change that method. For instance, traffickers increasingly shotgun loads of illicit drugs across the Southwest Border in several vehicles rather than in one large load on a truck. Interdiction of one of the vehicles results in the loss of only part of the shipment.DTOs continually look for new technologies to be able to communicate to avoid law enforcement detection. For instance, DTOs increasingly are using Internet-based communication technologies that often make it extraordinarily difficult to effectively employ lawful intercept (SIGINT) collection methods.Leadership within DTOs increasingly is becoming decentralized—meaning each component is handled by a separate group of people—making them more resilient, robust, and difficult to dismantle. For instance, the person in charge transporting drugs on a boat has knowledge of only that part of the trafficking.  This prevents law enforcement from gaining a significant amount of information from any one person. Several challenges exist within and among the agencies engaged in counter-narcotics efforts. Although cooperation is improving, there are still significant amounts of bureaucratic red tape that impedes efficient operations. For instance, agencies sometimes have competing goals or missions. Additionally, agency protocol for sensitive issues such as protecting methods and sources and evidence chain of custody can vary and create difficulties.The United States has limited resources available for counter-narcotics efforts. The programs and methods of operations must continually be evaluated to determine their effectiveness and the best use of resources. Comparatively, DTO have significant resources to put up against law enforcement resources. Outlook Looking back at our first week lesson, we re-consider the threat of drug trafficking to national security. The threat has many components—the violence of DTOs, the health of users, the dangers of production, the economic consequences, the current and potential links to other crimes, the safety of communities. Globally, drug trafficking threatens the legitimacy of the financial system, impedes progress in developing countries, and facilities transnational criminal activity. According to the United Nations, “marked growth in the number of illicit drug users can be expected in the developing countries. This suggests that a relative shift of the burden of the global drug problem from the developed countries to the currently developing countries will continue over the coming decades” (UN WDR 98). This will further stress resources of not only these countries but also the main players in the international counter-narcotics efforts such as the United States. Drug trafficking is a threat that is difficult if not impossible to mitigate completely. DTOs resources and influence enable them to continually improve trafficking operations and thus, to continually challenge counter-narcotics agencies. As such, counter-narcotics agencies will continue to use intelligence methods and operations to lesson this risk.  References: Executive Office of the President of the United States, National Drug Control Strategy. Washington, DC, 2013. United Nation Office of Drugs and Crime, World Drug Report 2012. Vienna, Austria, 2012.

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