Combating Violent Crime through Steadfast Enforcement of Drug Trafficking Laws

Combating Violent Crime through Steadfast Enforcement of Drug Trafficking Laws


Submitted by: Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Committee


WHEREAS, violent crime is a defining features of illicit drug markets;48 and

WHEREAS, enormous profits associated with drug trafficking enable transnational criminal organizations and foreign terrorist organizations to finance criminal and terrorist activities;49 and

WHEREAS, transnational criminal organizations have permeated many countries throughout the world, including the United States, threaten the safety and security of the public, derive revenue through widespread illegal conductincluding acts of violenceand are responsible for promoting high levels of drug addiction and abuse;50 and

WHEREAS, violent street gangs remain the primary retail-level distributors of illicit drugs in their respective territories and vie for control of lucrative drug trafficking markets, which continues to fuel the majority of gang violence;51 and

WHEREAS, some 33,000 violent gangs are criminally active in the United States and employ violence and intimidation to control neighborhoods and enhance their illegal money-making activities, including robbery, extortion, drug trafficking, arms smuggling, and a multitude of other crimes;52 and

WHEREAS, inter-gang conflict and drug-related factors affect local levels of violence;53 and

WHEREAS, federal prisons hold tens of thousands of drug traffickers, many weapons offenders, and other dangerous individuals, including nearly 23,000 gang-affiliated inmates;54 and

WHEREAS, drug traffickers have a more extensive arrest history than other offenders and tend to be more likely to commit other criminal activity than are other types of offenders with over 72 percent of drug offenders in U.S. federal prison having at least some criminal history;55 and

WHEREAS, among the 19,765 federal defendants convicted for drug trafficking in the United States during FY 2019, 55 percent had at least two prior criminal history points, indicating a substantial criminal history;56 and

WHEREAS, as of 2017, 28 percent of federal drug offenders convicted of drug trafficking offenses carrying mandatory minimum penalties had a conviction or guideline finding involving the use of a weapon, violence or credible threats of violence, or death or serious bodily injury;57 and

WHEREAS, numerous studies have found a correlation between methamphetamine and increased violent crime58 including domestic violence59 property crimes,60 and homicide;61 and

WHEREAS, the connection between drug trafficking and violence is so well-settled that courts have repeatedly held that guns and other weapons are the “tools of the trade” of drug traffickers;62 and

WHEREAS, more than 67,000 people in the United States were killed by drugs in 2018 alone;63 therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) strongly urges the steadfast enforcement of drug trafficking laws at the federal, state, and local levels to combat violent crimes while prioritizing the drug traffickers who pose the greatest threat to our communities and exacerbate the  drug problem by employing violence to facilitate the drug trade.


48 Drugs and Corruption,” Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2010 (New York, NY: United Nations, 2011): 1–13.

49 National Security Council, Disrupt Drug Trafficking and its Facilitation of Other Transnational Threats,” Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime (Washington, DC: National Security Council, 2011); U.S. Department of the Treasury, National Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment, 2015 (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Treasury, 2015): 11, 16.

50 Donald J. Trump, Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal  Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking, February 9, 2017; National Security Council, “Transnational  Organized Crime: A Growing Threat to National and International Security,” A Strategy to Combat Transnational Crime.

51 Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 2019 Drug Enforcement Administration National Drug Threat Assessment (Washington, DC: DEA, 2019).

52 Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Gangs,” What We Investigate; DEA Strategic Intelligence Section, 2019 Drug  Enforcement Administration National Drug Threat Assessment.

53 National Gang Center, “National Youth Gang Survey Analysis.”

54 Oversight of the Bureau of Prisons and Inmate Reentry:  Hearing Before the H. Comm. on Oversight and Gov ’t Reform, 115th Cong. (2017) (Mark S. Inch, Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons).

55 Sam Taxy, Julie Samuels, and William Adams, Special Report: Drug Offenders in Federal Prison: Estimates of   Characteristics Based on Linked Data (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2015).

56 United States Sentencing Commission (USSC),Quick Facts, Drug Trafficking Offenses, 2020.

57 USSC, An Overview of Mandatory Minimum Penalties in the Federal Criminal Justice System (Washington, DC: USSC, 2017).

58 See, e.g., Mary-Lynn Brecht and Diane M. Herbeck, “Methamphetamine Use and Violent Behavior: User Perceptions and Predictors,” Journal of Drug Issues 43, no. 4 (2013): 468–470; Arielle Baskin-Sommers and Ira Sommers, “Methamphetamine Use and Violence Among Young Adults,” Journal of Criminal Justice 34 (2006): 661– 672; Yi Liu et al., “Violent Offences of Methamphetamine Users and Dilemmas of Forensic Psychiatric Assessment,” Forensic Sciences Research 2, no. 1 (February 2017): 11–17

59 Christopher Dowling and Anthony Morgan, Is Methamphetamine Use Associated with Domestic Violence?” Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice 563 (December 2018).

60 Michael C. Gizzi and Patrick Gerkin, “Methamphetamine Use and Criminal Behavior,” international Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 54, no. 6 (November 2009): 915–93

61 Paul B. Streteky, "National Case-Control Study of Homicide Offending and methamphetamine Use, "Journal of Interpersonal Violence 24, no, 6 (November 2008): 911-924

62 See Ybarra v. Illinois 444 US 85, 106 (1979) (dis. Opn. By Rehnquist, J.); People v. Thurman(1989) 209 Cal.App.3d 817, 822 (1989)“In the narcotics business, firearms are as much ‘tools of the trade’ as are most commonly recognized articles of narcotic paraphernalia.”); People v. Simpson 65 Cal.App.4th 854, 863 (1998) (“Illegal drugs and guns are a lot like sharks and remoras. And just as a diver who spots a remora is well-advised to be on the lookout for sharks, an officer investigating cocaine and marijuana sales would be foolish not to worry about weapons. Particularly where large quantities of illegal drugs are involved, an officer can be certain of the risk that individuals in possession of those drugs, which can be worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars,  may choose to defend their livelihood with their lives--or, in this case, with the lives of 14 Rottweilers, the Luddite equivalent of a cache of AK-47's.”); U.S. v. Salas, 879 F.2d 530, 535 (1989) (“[I]t is not unreasonable to assume that a dealer in narcotics might be armed and subject to a pat-search.”).

63 CDC, Drug Overdose Deaths, 2020.



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