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NCJ Number: 118320 Find in a Library
Title: US Military and the War on Drugs in Latin America
Journal: Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs  Volume:30  Issue:2 & 3  Dated:special issue (Summer/Fall 1988)  Pages:53-76
Author(s): D Mabry
Date Published: 1988
Page Count: 24
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The author contends that using the U.S. Armed Forces in the war on drugs in Latin America violates the historic tradition of separating the military from civilian law enforcement.
Abstract: The military is already somewhat involved in narcotics control. In 1987, the military spent $389 million on drug enforcement, loaned $303 million worth of equipment to drug law enforcement authorities, furnished airborne and ground surveillance support, and supplied intelligence on a regular basis. The principal demand for increased military involvement is to give civilian police powers to the military to interdict the flow of drugs as quickly as possible and at the lowest possible cost. The Department of Defense (DOD) does not want military personnel to assume the law enforcement role; DOD views its mission as protecting the country against external attack. Currently, DOD concentrates on aiding civilian law enforcement agencies by lending equipment, providing specialized training, sharing intelligence and sensing data, and allowing Coast Guard personnel to join naval patrols. Problems that may arise with direct military involvement in the war on drugs relate to interdiction on the high seas and along the border, use of the National Guard, potential corruption of the military, potential for conflict between gathering information for military intelligence and civil liberties, arrest powers, civil-military relations, and cost-effectiveness. It is concluded that an expanded military role will have a negligible effect on the supply of drugs coming into the United States and that civilian politicians who propose a military solution to the drug problem may be trying to deflect public attention away from themselves and toward the military as a potential scapegoat. Policy recommendations include funding of the U.S. Customs Service to take the lead in narcotics control. 38 references.
Main Term(s): International drug law enforcement
Index Term(s): Drug smuggling; Latin America; Military role in drug law enforcement; US Customs Service; US Department of Defense
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