The maritime trade in illicit drugs : the experience of the coastal member states of O.E.C.D.
The trafficking of illicit drugs by sea has become an industry comprised of many individual enterprises of variform size and organization. Seizure statistics for the 1980s indicate that 70% of the total quantity of drugs intercepted in the trafficking stage were interdicted in the maritime sector or attributed to having been transported by sea. More significantly, it appears that only between 8 - 12% of the total volume of drugs trafficked are intercepted. The use of the seaborne modes of transport is the result of planetary geography which made the maritime medium one of only two ways by which drugs may enter several states. In response, varying sophisticated counter-trafficking offensives, policies and strategies have been implemented and contemplated in select geographical regions - examples being the Caribbean and Pacific Basins. However, the importation of illicit substances to the primary consuming states has not been curbed and indications are that the overall flow of drugs remains unimpeded. This thesis focuses on the maritime trade in illicit drugs during the 1980s by providing both qualitative and quantitative analyses of the activity. Specifically, the theme addressed is the question of why there is so little success in combating the maritime drug trade. Embraced by the study are the various geographical, physical, technical and socio-political elements supportive of the trade. Among the pertinent topics revealed are the flow structure to the trade, the categories of drugs transported, the classes of vessels utilized, the methods of concealment and deception employed, the involvement of organized crime, the contributing geographical elements and the unique variations to specific routes as determined by destination and region. Additionally, the international law suppressing the maritime trade in illicit drugs is examined. To lend completeness to the study a brief review of the historical dimension to the smuggling of drugs by sea is included along with analysis of drug production and consumption. Because the threat of drugs is perceived to be greatest, albeit wrongly, among the developed states this thesis tackles the subject from the perspective of the coastal member states of O.E.C.D. Lastly, recommendations and innovations to old strategies are proffered specifically as they apply to the maritime component of the illicit drug trade.