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Sinaloa Cartel

Sinaloa Cartel

Sample Answer 

Sinaloa Cartel

Identify one drug cartel, and then explain how their method of drug trafficking has changed over the last decade

The Sinaloa Cartel from Mexico has been generally regarded as the most profitable, expensive, and powerful cartel in the world even though its alleged leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, was recently re-incarcerated (Bagley, 2012). The organization, which is said to be worth a billion dollars, has operations in more than fifty countries, from the United States to Argentina, Europe, and probably Southeast Asia. El Chapo, alongside his associates, has successfully moved vast quantities of drugs discretely across many boundaries to establish an extensive distribution network.

It is said that the cartel originated from the Guadalajara Cartel, one of the most prominent crime organizations in Mexico in the early 1980s (Bagley, 2012). But after the cartel got involved in the torturous murder of a United States agent of drug enforcement, the forces of Mexico and the United States decided to crack down on the organization, and by late the 1980s, it had been broken into different groups, one of them being the Sinaloa Cartel. According to the New York Times Magazine, El Chapo, the boss of the Sinaloa Cartel, appointed an architect who constructed a short passage that ran approximately two hundred feet from the house of an attorney in Agua Prieta in the state of Sonora to a warehouse owned by the cartel in Douglas, Arizona. After the tunnel was done, El Chapo instructed the Colombian Cartels to supply all the drugs they possibly could.

From then on, the cartel invested heavily in tunnels. In the last decade, the cartel constructed a “super-tunnel” that was furnished with motorized carts, electric lights, and ventilation systems which crisscrossed the United States border (Bagley, 2012). Also, tunnels were incorporated into different escape routes. The cartel has also employed sophisticated methods of smuggling drugs. It has built numerous compartments in its vehicles where they conceal their drugs. The only way the receptacles could be opened was with some tricky procedures, like connecting different cables. They knew this technique would not be easy for the agents of border patrol to identify. Two lookouts were employed, one on the border’s each side tasked with keeping tabs on the vehicles that carried the merchandise from the Mexicali stash house until it passed inspection. After a successful smuggle into the U.S, the driver would be trailed by a third lookout two hundred miles North to L.A where the substances are offloaded for distribution.

Identify the most common drug trafficking routes. Is there a relationship between these various geographical areas?

Many countries in the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico are cocaine bund transit countries for the major consumer markets in Europe and North America. For the latter, drugs are customarily shipped from Colombia to Central America or Mexico by sea and later by land to Canada and the United States (Dell, 2015). According to the United States authority, approximately ninety percent of the drugs that enter the country cross the Mexico/U. S border, with the majority of it going through Texas. According to the estimates of the United States, about seventy percent of the drugs leave Colombia through the Pacific.

Colombia has remained the primary source of drugs found in the continent of Europe, but direct transportation from Bolivia’s Plurinational State and Peru is not as common as in the United States market (Dell, 2015). The relative essentiality of Colombia has been declining in recent years. For instance, in the year 2002, the authorities in the United Kingdom confirmed that ninety percent of the seized drugs originated from Colombia. In many other European countries, the Plurinational State of Bolivia and Peru seem to be the leading source countries of drugs.

Determine if the war on drugs has affected drug trafficking in the United States

The War on Drugs has been a significant effort in the U.S since the 1970s to hinder the abuse of drugs by significantly increasing enforcement, penalties, and incarceration for drug traffickers. In the year 1973, the DEA established a merger between the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, the Office for Drug Abuse Law Enforcement, and the Office of Narcotics Intelligence to strengthen federal efforts for drug abuse control. The legalization of marijuana is one of the aspects of the war on drugs campaign (Moore, 2008). Marijuana seizures at the border have decreased by approximately forty percent since some states in the U.S.A. legalized its use. Due to this, a report by the Washington Post indicated that traffickers of Marijuana from Mexico have claimed that the business was not worth it anymore since they cannot compete with the local American quality and price. The price of marijuana from Mexico has decreased from one hundred dollars a kilo to twenty-five dollars, making growers in Sinaloa and Durango stop planting marijuana. In this case, it seems that the United States is winning the war on marijuana alongside the Mexican border, costing the drug cartels billions of dollars by legalizing it (Moore, 2008). However, the cartels have decided to respond to this loss by smuggling more meth, cocaine, and especially heroin. The Sinaloa Cartel vastly supplies the epidemic of heroin in the Northeast. Addicts who use prescription opiates have turned to Mexican heroin, which is less expensive.

Determine if the legalization of drugs is a way to reduce drug trafficking. Explain and defend your response by using examples to support your view

The legalization of drugs, particularly marijuana, would possibly lead to the emergence of the gray marijuana market. Legalization of marijuana means taxing it in order to discourage its greater use and to generate more revenue (Jenner, 2011): The higher the taxation, the greater the opportunity for the drug trafficking organizations to undercut the authority by relatively charging less. The narcos could establish their fields with the smaller imposition of taxes, snatch their markets and the state would again combat them and eradicate their fields. Gray markets usually exist in countries that legalize marijuana. Such markets tend to be highly violent, dominated by generating corruption, organized crime, and exploitative society.

Furthermore, suppose the territory is not physically controlled by the state where there is the cultivation of marijuana. In that case, the Drug Trafficking Organizations could keep on dominating the marijuana fields that were newly legal, charging taxes, structuring the growers’ lives, and even easily integrating into the formal federal system (Jenner, 2011). Most rubber and oil barons started with illegal practices and later became influential. Drug legalization is definitely not the solution. There is no shortcut to the enhancement of law enforcement. Without accountable and capable law enforcement, responsive to the people’s needs, from addressing street crimes to restraining organized crime with support from an accessible, efficient, and transparent system of justice, neither illegal nor legal economies will be managed well by the state. Legalization of marijuana would only be viable if the United States would get the drug trafficking organizations under control and establish an efficient justice and law enforcement reform.

Recommend strategies and tactics to law enforcement to reduce drug trafficking

Street-level enforcement

This kind of enforcement is primarily carried out by tactical squad officers, patrol officers, and plainclothes officers. The focus here is on street dealers and drug users. Tactics include suspected transaction interruption, surveillance, raids of “crack houses” and “shooting galleries,” and by-and-bust operations (Astorga, 2010). The majority of arrests related to drugs are often small-time offenders, and the seizures are often limited as well. However, a street-level arrest does not mostly lead to incarceration because of the overcrowdedness in American jails.

Crop eradication

Law enforcement agencies employ this strategy at all levels but with significant variations. State and local agencies are highly restricted to the eradication of cannabis since it is the dominant illicit drug grown in the U.S (Astorga, 2010). By contrast, federal agencies are involved in international agreements and treaties aimed at the reduction of heroin cultivation and crops that produce cocaine in various parts of the world.

Major investigation

This strategy targets the organizations and individuals who are responsible for the production, importation, and distribution of vast quantities of illicit substances (Astorga, 2010). Major investigations are mainly utilized by state and federal agencies of law enforcement and the large local law enforcement departments. Because these investigations take extensive periods, they are beyond the means of the local jurisdictions as they involve substantial traveling and specialized expertise.


Astorga, L., & Shirk, D. A. (2010). Drug trafficking organizations and counter-drug strategies in the US-Mexican context.

Bagley, B. (2012). Drug trafficking and organized crime in the Americas. Woodrow Wilson Center Update of the Americas.

Dell, M. (2015). Trafficking networks and the Mexican drug war. American Economic Review, 105(6), 1738-79.

Jenner, M. S. (2011). International drug trafficking: A global problem with a domestic solution. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, 18(2), 901-927.

Moore, L. D., & Elkavich, A. (2008). Who’s using and who’s doing time: incarceration, the war on drugs, and public health. American Journal of Public Health, 98(Supplement_1), S176-S180.


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Week 6 – Assignment: Evaluate Efforts to Fight Drug Trafficking in the United States


Over 43 years have passed since the war on drugs was initiated.  Develop a critical analysis reflecting on the history of drug trafficking in the United States and law enforcement responses.  Discuss current law enforcement actions and assess their effectiveness.

Sinaloa Cartel

Sinaloa Cartel

Include the following in your analysis:

  • Identify one drug cartel, and then explain how their method of drug trafficking has changed over the last decade.
  • Identify the most common drug trafficking routes. Is there a relationship between these various geographical areas?
  • Determine if the war on drugs has affected drug trafficking in the United States.
  • Determine if the legalization of drugs is a way to reduce drug trafficking. Explain and defend your response by using examples to support your view.
  • Recommend strategies and tactics to law enforcement to reduce drug trafficking.

Provide as many specific examples as possible to support your findings.

Support your analysis with at least three scholarly or professional resources. In addition to these specified resources, other appropriate scholarly resources, including older articles, may be included.

Length: 5-7 pages, not including title and reference pages

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