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The Military's Entry into Air Interdiction of Drug Trafficking from South America

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The formal introduction of the military into the national drug control program was mandated by the FY 1989 Defense Authorization Act. In this Note, we examine the militarys participation in the air interdiction of international drug traffic, particularly the interdiction of cocaine being flown in to the United States from South America. Civilian smuggling aircraft now rarely fly directly from South America to landing sites outside the United States, such as Mexico, or drop their cargos to boats waiting beyond U.S. waters. Drug interdiction efforts to appear to be diverting drug smugglers from the easier routes. Whether this diversion is sufficient to cause drugs to be less available or more costly remains to be seen. For the military and their involvement in drug interdiction, it may be sufficient to say that interdiction efforts are affecting the drug market and properly implemented, the militarys participation should add to this effect. The civilian interdiction forces employed in the National Drug Control Program NDCP are drawn, in part, from the normal law enforcement agencies and other organizations. The organization of these civilian agencies in drug interdiction seems to defy charting. Their responsibilities and relationships with one another are confused by the constant overlapping of legal and operational areas of responsibilities As many as six agencies could have arrest authority in a given area. Although the interfaces between the agencies are not clearly defined, the civilian drug interdiction effort is well established and experienced despite the apparent confusion, it works.

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  • Sociology and Law

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