Posted on 7/30/18

The 1970s and 1980s saw a sharp rise in drug use and a corresponding rise in violent crime. At the time, the import of drugs from South America via the Caribbean and the Mexican border was in full swing. The United States began implementing measures to stop the flow of contraband into the United States. In addition, a new substance appeared on the market that was called “crack,” which combined ground cocaine with baking soda and other ingredients. Cocaine, which was previously prohibitively expensive, could now be used as part of another illegal drug and go very far.

The crack epidemic, as it was called, spread like wildfire. This quasi-cocaine substance was cheap and all over the place. According to crime statistics, crack-induced and crack-related crime was everywhere.

Certain spots gained notoriety as venues for drugs. Night clubs in particular had reputations for not only providing drinks and occasional entertainment, they were havens where drug dealers sold their wares. In addition, those involved in the prostitution trade were also involved in the drug trade. Drugs and prostitution were wholly intertwined.

Local police and federal authorities were at the forefront of cracking down on the drug trade. In turn, the police started cracking down on the sex trade. As a consequence, pimps sought to arm themselves with weapons, many of which were purchased on the black market. This led to an escalation of violence involving police and drug dealers/pimps.

Interestingly, law enforcement placed their enforcement efforts primarily on drug dealers. While Texas and federal law bans the use of illegal drugs, law enforcement generally did not target users. Police might stop a car for speeding and find drugs in the car, thereby arresting the driver and occupants for drug possession; however, police generally did not prioritize enforcing the law against drug users.

Prosecutorial Zeal

In this environment, prosecutors pushed the full front of the law against the drug industry, particularly crack dealers. Crack dealers, especially those who allegedly purchased the cocaine and mixed the substance that became crack, faced zealous prosecutors. Armed with the blessing of politicians and public support, prosecutors everywhere were arguing cases against accused drug dealers.

As a result, many accused drug dealers found themselves in prison. The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees a fair trial. Were the trials of all these accused drug dealers fair? Probably not.

Since then, the United States government created sophisticated methods for catching drug smugglers. The Coast Guard received training for detecting boats that may be holding cocaine and similar substances. U.S. military presence in Mexican border towns has also helped slow the drug trade via the southern border.

As a result of the war on drugs and its ensuing crackdown, more and more people are finding creative ways to join the drug trade. They need more sophisticated methods for transporting those substances into the US.

Accused of smuggling or selling illegal drugs? The prosecution will zealously push for a conviction. You have rights. You need an advocate who will protect those rights. Contact the law firm of Christopher Abel, a board-certified criminal defense attorney.

(imge courtesy of Elti Meshau)

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