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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 182524 Find in a Library
Title: Webs of Smoke: Smugglers, Warlords, Spies, and the History of the International Drug Trade
Author(s): Kathryn Meyer; Terry Parssinen
Date Published: 1998
Page Count: 333
Sponsoring Agency: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc
Lanham, MD 20706
Publication Number: ISBN 0-8476-9016-4
Sale Source: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200
Lanham, MD 20706
United States of America
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Book (Hardbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This book reviews the history and personalities involved in illicit narcotics trafficking, with attention to its place in East Asian history.
Abstract: The popular image of smoke-filled Chinese opium dens is based on the fact that China was for many decades the leading consumer of narcotics. Vastly profitable for colonial Britain but a detriment for China, the drug trade led to bitter wars and to the creation of a powerful underground international industry. When the business of narcotics went from legal commodity to illicit substance, traffickers needed political connections, and political connections were readily made in China's chaotic environment of civil war and imperial rivalry. Drug traffickers flourished because they were useful to various parties: warlords, professional criminals, Chiang Kaisheks Guomindang, Mao's communists, spies, and Japanese adventurers. This review of the history of drug trafficking concludes that drug traffickers are entrepreneurs, who have sought out profitable drug markets and attempted to deal with impediments to their business operations. Generally, drug trafficking has flourished in times and places of political instability, where politicians needed money, intelligence, and other resources that traffickers could offer. These alliances were often productive in the short term, but they rarely lasted. Both drug traffickers and their political allies were consummate opportunists, and opportunities appeared or disappeared with changing circumstances. As long as there is a demand for drugs and the drugs in demand are illegal, traffickers will seek out and establish alliances with politicians. These alliances are not conspiracies, but are the political economy of the international narcotics traffic. Chapter notes, a 160-item bibliography, and a subject index
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): China; Corruption of public officials; Drug offender profiles; Drug offenders; Economic influences; Opioids; Social conditions
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