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World Drug Trade Feeds Diverse Rebellions


January 1993

The international trade in illicit drugs is fueling rebellion and instability in the former communist East and Third World, facilitated by the disappearance of border controls in Europe with the emergence of the European Common Market (Series by Frank Viviano in San Francisco Chronicle; "Drug Rings Thrive As Europe Opens Internal Borders: Narcotics Syndicates Exploit Liberalization of Trade Policies," 12/17/92, A1; "Drug Trade Feeds World's Rebellions: Profits From Smuggling Keep Causes Alive," 12/18/92, A1).

The formal elimination of controlled borders in Western Europe, the collapse of the former Soviet Union, and a variety of ongoing rebellions, civil, and national conflicts and wars worldwide have resulted in a tremendous proliferation and diversification of international drug traffic, mainly in heroin and cocaine. European officials interviewed for the two-part San Francisco Chronicle series conceded that they had been completely overwhelmed by drug traffickers. The emergence of so many individuals willing to smuggle in order to escape from or finance conflicts in former Eastern communist and Third World nations had made the task of interdiction impossible.

The series provides one of the most comprehensive accounts of the current international drug trafficking situation seen by NewsBriefs in recent years, including interviews with officials intimately acquainted with the geopolitical and socioeconomic factors involved. The article does not take any stance regarding national and international narcotics laws, but the information drives home not only the futility of prohibition as a policy, but the tremendously disruptive and destabilizing impact of the burgeoning international market in prohibited drugs.