Drug Smugglers on Drug Smuggling

Drug Smugglers on Drug Smuggling: Lessons from the Inside

Scott H. Decker
Margaret Townsend Chapman
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Drug Smugglers on Drug Smuggling
    Book Description:

    Drug Smugglers on Drug Smugglingfeatures interviews with 34 convicted drug smugglers -- most of them once major operators -- detailing exactly how drugs are smuggled into the U.S. from Latin America. These sources provide tangible evidence of the risks, rewards, and organization of international drug smuggling.Quoting frequently from their interviews, Decker and Chapman explain how individuals are recruited into smuggling, why they stay in it, and how their roles change over time. They describe the specific strategies their interviewees employed to bring drugs into the country and how they previously escaped apprehension. Over-all, the authors find that drug smuggling is organized in a series of networks which are usually unconnected.This extraordinarily informative book will be of particular interest to law enforcement officials and policymakers, but it will appeal to anyone who wants to know how the drug business actually works.

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-644-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1 Motivation for the Study
    (pp. 1-19)

    Drug use is a major issue in the United States. Prior research has linked it to a host of social ills, including involvement in crime, destabilization and decline of neighborhoods, and family instability. In addition, drug importation represents a major threat to the political security of both the United States and source countries and impedes economic development in countries where drugs are grown in large quantities. Although studies of drug use are numerous and our understanding of local drug markets is growing, our understanding of the multimillion-dollar business of international drug smuggling is considerably less well developed.

    This book examines...

  5. 2 Organization of the Study
    (pp. 20-32)

    A primary goal of this book is to examine the effect of interdiction and other drug enforcement activities on drug smuggling. The objective of the interview component of our work was to gather information on perceptions of the relationship between interdiction operations in the drug source, transit, and arrival zones and the corresponding effect on illegal drug smuggling from individuals with personal experience of smuggling drugs into the United States. The interviews were designed to collect information on how high-level smugglers assess risk, what they perceive as risks, and how these perceptions vary according to their role in the offense....

  6. 3 Drug Smuggling Organizations
    (pp. 33-61)

    Although the interviews were not focused on describing smuggling organizations, it was impossible to avoid the subject in conversations about how loads were organized, who owned the drugs, and how information was communicated across groups. Many of the smugglers also had long histories of smuggling drugs and were therefore able to discuss changes in smuggling organizations over the past twenty years. It is from these discussions that we are able to describe the structure of smuggling organizations and how drugs are moved from the source country to the United States.

    As we began talking to smugglers about smuggling organizations, we...

  7. 4 Movement of Drugs
    (pp. 62-87)

    Individuals were asked to describe, based on their experience, typical drug smuggling events from source country to the United States. These descriptions and information about the offenses for which the smugglers were convicted provide specifics of the ways drugs are transported into the United States, as well as of the ways smugglers avoid being detected. The information presented in this chapter sheds light on the dynamic nature of drug smuggling events, the risks associated with different transportation methods, and strategies used to minimize those risks.

    Colombians are in charge of transporting loads of drugs out of Colombia. Most often, the...

  8. 5 Roles, Recruitment into, and Remaining Involved in the Drug Smuggling Trade
    (pp. 88-113)

    In this chapter, we introduce the various roles the smugglers played in operations and the way each became involved in the drug smuggling trade. These conversations allowed us to identify the way individuals are recruited, the way roles evolve over time, and reasons for continued involvement, including smuggler’s perceptions of that involvement. In these conversations, we were trying understand how people become involved in the trafficking business, how individuals participate in an operation and the various roles they can fill, and why people stay involved over time.

    To collect information on specific roles in the smuggling trade, we asked smugglers...

  9. 6 Balancing Risk and Reward
    (pp. 114-144)

    In our conversations with smugglers regarding methods, roles, and recruitment, it became clear that the smuggler community engages in a number of strategies to minimize risk and avoid detection. Some of the strategies appeared to be universal, while others were specific to the size of the load, the method of transport, and the transportation route. In this chapter we describe these strategies, their increasing importance after President Ronald Reagan declared his war on drugs, and how Reagan’s war resulted in changes to the smuggling trade. We also introduce smuggler assessments of risk, the level at which a smuggler would be...

  10. 7 Making Sense of Drug Smuggling: Conclusions and Summary
    (pp. 145-162)

    Studies of crime and deviance typically begin with the question, “Why do people commit crime?” However, in the case of international drug smuggling, it may be more appropriate to ask why people do not smuggle drugs. Hirschi (1969) and Gottfredson and Hirschi (1979) point out that conformity, not deviance, should be questioned. Such a view of the motivation for engaging in international drug smuggling should receive special focus, given the perception that enormous profits can be made, the difficulties facing law enforcement in catching smugglers, and the relatively low levels of skill needed to work in a drug smuggling group....

  11. Appendix 1. Instrumentation Study Design
    (pp. 163-180)
  12. Appendix 2. Study Design
    (pp. 181-198)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 199-202)
  14. References
    (pp. 203-206)
  15. Index
    (pp. 207-210)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 211-211)