Drug Trafficking in Houston: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions
A serious crime, drug trafficking entails the production, sale, or distribution of illicit or regulated narcotics. Drug trafficking can have detrimental effects on a community’s economy, safety, and health.
Drug trafficking is a serious issue in Texas that has an impact on numerous cities and areas. Houston, though, sticks out as having the highest level of drug trafficking in the state.
What Factors Contribute to Houston Being the Largest City in Texas and the Fourth-largest in the United States?
Texas’s largest city and the fourth-biggest in the US is Houston. It serves as a significant hub for industry, trade, and transportation. With over 2.3 million residents, Houston boasts a varied population of numerous immigrants and refugees from many nations and cultures.
Houston is also close to the Gulf of Mexico, which gives it access to ports and international waters. Because of all these advantages, drug traffickers find Houston to be a desirable place to travel to and from when smuggling drugs into and out of the nation.
The main drug distribution hub in Texas and the Southwest is Houston, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Additionally, according to the DEA, Houston serves as a supply base for drugs that are shipped to other states and cities, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, and synthetic opioids.
What Are the Main Consequences of Drug Trafficking in Houston?
Houston’s drug trade has detrimental effects on both the city and its citizens. Among the repercussions are:
Increased crime and violence: Gangs, cartels, and organized crime groups are frequently linked to drug trafficking, and they employ intimidation and violence to defend their lands and earnings.
Houston has a high rate of drug-related murders, shootings, robberies, and assaults, particularly in neighbourhoods with strong drug traffic. The Houston Police Department reports that there were 400 killings in 2020, up 42% from 2019. A significant number of these killings involved drugs or drug users and traffickers.
Risks to the public’s health and safety: Drug trafficking puts people at risk for overdose, addiction, illness, and injury. To boost the potency and revenues of their products, drug traffickers frequently adulterate or combine drugs with additional chemicals, such as fentanyl.
However, as users might not be aware of the precise composition or potency of the medications they take, this also raises their danger of overdosing and passing away.
The Texas Department of State Health Services reports that 3,139 people died in Texas in 2019 from drug overdoses, an increase of 6.5% over 2018.
Of these fatalities, 1,402 were related to opioids, and 1,030 were related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. With 713 drug overdose deaths in 2019, Houston had the highest state total.
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Economic and social costs: The city and its citizens bear financial and social consequences as a result of drug trafficking. Drug trafficking has an impact on drug users and their families’ productivity, work, and education. These individuals may also experience personal, legal, and financial difficulties.
In addition, drug trafficking puts a strain on the finances and resources of criminal justice, law enforcement, healthcare, and social services—all of which must deal with the fallout from drug addiction and abuse.
The economic cost of drug usage in Texas was projected to be $49.9 billion in 2018, based on a study conducted by the Perryman Group. This included lost wages, medical expenses, legal fees, and social service costs.
What Are the Solutions?
Drug trafficking in Houston is a complicated issue with many facets that call for an all-encompassing strategy. Among the potential fixes are the following:
Strengthening law enforcement and border security: To stop and destroy the drug trafficking networks and organizations that are active in and around Houston, border security and law enforcement agencies must collaborate.
This involves giving the DEA, Customs and Border Protection, Coast Guard, and local police agencies more intelligence, surveillance, and interdiction power.
To combat cross-border drug trafficking, it also entails strengthening coordination and cooperation between federal, state, and local agencies as well as with foreign allies like Mexico and Colombia.
Expanding prevention and education programs: Increasing the scope of prevention and education initiatives is necessary to increase public awareness and lower drug demand, particularly among young people and other susceptible populations.
This entails disseminating truthful and fact-based information regarding the dangers and adverse effects of drug use in addition to advocating for constructive and healthful substitutes and coping mechanisms.
Another aspect of it is involving the community, the media, educational institutions, and religious institutions in support of and participation in preventive and education initiatives.
Improving treatment and recovery services: To give drug users and their families easily accessible and efficient care and support, treatment and recovery services must be enhanced.
For those suffering from opioid use disorder and other substance use disorders, this entails making behavioural therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and peer support more accessible and reasonably priced.
To lower the morbidity and death rate of drug users, it also entails growing harm reduction and overdose prevention initiatives, such as naloxone distribution, syringe exchange, and safe consumption locations.