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Drug-related Crimes and Offenses

In 2019, US law enforcement made an estimated 1,558,862 arrests for drug crimes. Of these, 86.7% were for possession of illicit drugs and 13.3% were for drug distribution. Users are paying the most penalties.

What is the scope of drug crimes in the US and how did the problem reach its current magnitude?

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Drug Crimes

There are many types of drug offenses: drug trafficking, drug distribution, drug possession, drug use, drug violence. However, drug crimes fall into three basic categories:

  • Use-induced crime – Crimes committed by drug users who take a substance and then commit an offense due to the effects of the drug on the person’s mood and state of mind. Includes violent and dangerous crimes (rape, murder, home intrusions).
  • Money-related crime – Crimes committed by addicted individuals in pursuit of money to support their drug habits. Common offenses include prostitution and theft. Some thieves rob cash registers for drug money. Others steal and sell car parts to afford drugs.
  • Systemic drug crime – Crimes committed by people involved in the illegal drug trade. Drug crimes range from small-time street deals to large shipments from international cartels. Bad deals often lead to violence, shootouts and mafia-related hits.

Certain drug-related crimes (user-induced ones) are reprehensible and punishable under any circumstance. Violent and deadly drug-related acts cause many people to support prohibition. Others argue that decriminalization would inspire more people to get help and put the kingpins of systemic crime out of business.

Certain drugs give people a sense of invincibility. While intoxicated, the perpetrator might feel unstoppable, as if he could get away with anything. Benzodiazepines, which cause aggression and risk-taking instincts, are often behind the violent crimes committed by people under the influence. Examples include:

  • Armed robbery – Risky acts like armed robbery, where the perpetrator pulls a gun and places lives at stake (including his own), are not often committed by level-headed people. When under the influence of aggression drugs, a different state of mind takes over where the perpetrator doesn’t sense his limits.
  • Home intrusions – Property crimes are just as dangerous as store robberies. Oftentimes, the perpetrator breaks into a random house not knowing what’s inside. He expects to find money to steal, objects to pawn and maybe a body to violate. There could be an armed homeowner waiting inside.
  • Ram raids – A growing trend in public crime involves automobiles. In some cases, the perpetrator drives into a crowd of spectators at a street parade. In ram raids, the person drives his/her car into a storefront window. During blackouts, riots and pandemics, this is often done to raid the store’s contents. The odds of a getaway are nil.
  • Aggression – Violent crimes, domestic and public, are often committed by intoxicated individuals. Level-headed, sober individuals don’t normally raise fists or draw weapons at the slightest disagreement. When high on drugs, a person might perpetuate some lethal act in the heat of the moment, something that can’t be taken back.
  • Reckless driving – Drunk drinking has been a problem for decades. Drug-addled reckless driving is arguably more dangerous because these people feel unstoppable. Every day on YouTube, videos get posted of recent high-speed car chases, some that last 90 minutes. It takes severe intoxication for a driver to think that he/she can outrun the law.

Not all violent crime involves drugs or alcohol. In some cases, it’s down to temperament and lack of empathy. When drugs are involved, otherwise good-natured people often stray into the darker side. People who are already violent and irritable can become murderous on drugs.

Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking is fueled by demand and legal issues. When a popular market is outlawed, it drives the trade underground and places vast amounts of money at stake. Once addicted, users pay vast sums of money to procure drugs. The problem fills hospitals and homeless shelters. The volatility of the drug trade triggers violence among those involved.

So how did things get this way? America’s descent into drug culture involved multiple changes in the socio-political fabric over half a century, including:

  • Social mores – During the 1960s, the emerging baby boom generation rejected the conservative values of their parents and embraced a more hedonistic lifestyle. Due to the massive size of this generation, law enforcement agencies lacked the manpower to maintain order on a mass scale. This led to newfound levels of drug experimentation.
  • Drug trends – The ’60s rock culture spawned numerous subcultures that fueled the popularity of certain drugs. During the psychedelic era, kids sought the trippy effects of hallucinogens like LSD. In the disco ’70s, stimulants like cocaine allowed leisure-suited clubgoers to hustle the night away. Drugs like speed and heroin were big on the punk scene.
  • Demographic shifts – As more Third World immigrants filtered into the states and whites fled into the suburbs, the low-income corners of many US cities became ghettoized along racial and ethnic lines. To escape the despair, many youths joined drug-oriented gangs. Streets became battlegrounds with turf wars and drug-fueled crime sprees.
  • Politics – The rise of drug culture and social permissiveness during the ’60s and ’70s fueled a backlash during the ’80s. Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton tried to combat drug trafficking and crime with their War on Drugs. Despite all the mass incarceration and crackdowns, illicit drug possession, addiction and crime proliferated through the ’90s and ’00s.
  • Cheap drug variants – The drug market has multiplied as suppliers import cheaper variants of in-demand drugs like cocaine and heroin. Today’s cocaine is often mixed with cornstarch or sugar, which increases the toxicity. Current heroin often contains fentanyl, another depressant drug that’s 50 times as powerful. Some people OD on their first hit.

Despite numerous attempts to eradicate the problem, drug crimes remain rampant because illicit drug use is everywhere. When areas become crime-plagued, schools fall into disarray. With no education or proper role models, newer influxes of youth continue the cycle of drug use and violent crime.

Stop Drug Crime Before It Starts

Get Help Today

Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

Drug offenders and their violent crimes continue to burden law enforcement agencies. Illegal drugs are easy to access, despite stringent drug laws on Schedule I substances. Even with tough penalties for drug abuse violations, drug distribution remains widespread. Young teenagers can easily get access to illegal controlled substances.

If someone you know has a drug habit, get help for that person. With so many people committing drug-related offenses to support their habits, you wouldn’t want that to be your son, daughter, sister, brother or friend.

Throughout the US, drug rehab centers offer substance abuse treatment programs for all types of addictions. Contact the treatment centers in your area and ask about their program options. One call could save your loved one from drug addiction, crime, imprisonment and early death. 

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