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Drugs - Criminology diploma 2

Updated on November 1, 2011

Drug related Crime

Criminology Diploma

Assignment 2. Drugs


***Before you continue to read this Hub may I mention that this is my work, written in my words for my Criminology Diploma. By all means read the Hub and absorb it's content but please don't plagiarize my work and present it as your own work towards your own diploma. This has been added as a request from a tutor/examiner of the Criminology Diploma program.***

Thank you!

"Understanding the Nature, Range and Scope of Drug Related Crime".

2.1 Describe the range of drugs traded illegally and their forms of trading.

All forms of drugs can be traded illegally, from tobacco and alcohol products through to class ‘A’ drugs such as Heroin, Cocaine and Ecstasy.

Alcohol, a depressant,is the oldest and the most widely used drug in the world. In its pure form it is a colourless, tasteless liquid that is produced by fermentation. It is legal to sell alcohol, in the form of beer, wines or spirits in correctly licensed premises to over 18 year olds.

On the 10th September 2009 pure alcohol worth £500,000 was seized in a customs raid on a container shipped on a ferry from Hollyhead to Dublin. The 4,000 litres of potentially lethal alcohol was disguised as car wash fluid, it is believed to have been distilled in Bulgaria and could possibly have made up to 20,000 litres of counterfeit vodka.

Amphetaminesare synthetic stimulants and under the Medicines Act they are Prescription Only Drugs. In powder, tablet or capsule form they are a class B drugs but if prepared for injection become class A. Methamphetamine can be smoked, snorted, orally digested or injected. Speed is the commonest amphetamine and is usually found in powder form, Base is an oily, sticky or waxy paste and Ice (crystal methamphetamine) comes in crystal or crystalline powder form, overall purity can range between 1 and 99% with an average of around 43%. Although some come from the Netherlands the majority of amphetamines consumed in the UK are actually produced in the UK in secret laboratories that can be quite small and highly mobile, small enough to actually produce the drug from a cars boot. Amphetamines fall into the category of Party Drugs and would be used and supplied by some people who frequent nightclubs, raves and similar events to excite and enhance their experiences.

Cannabisis the most widely used illegal drug throughout the UK. It is a naturally occurring drug made from the leaves, flowers, stems and seeds of the Cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica), it’s a sedative (depressant) and also a mild hallucinogen. Cannabis comes in three forms, Hash which is a black or brown resin, Hash Oil which isa dark-honey coloured sticky oil and Grass or Weed (Herbal) which is the dried components of the cannabis plant that resembles dried herbs, all of which are illegal to cultivate, possess, use or supply. In 2004 Cannabis was reclassified from a class B to a class C drug but as part of the Governments Drug Strategy it was reclassified back up to class B in January 2009.

As all drugs are a generator of profit, organized crime is involved in the cultivation and the distribution of cannabis along with its importation into the UK particularly from the Netherlands and Morocco.

Cocaine is an extremely powerful class ‘A’ drug extracted from the leaves of the coca bush, it rapidly stimulates the brain. Commonly available as a fine white powder (coke) that is snorted up the nose through a straw or rolled up banknote, purity levels of coke average 22% usually cut with sugar, starch or talcum to increase volume. Crack Cocaine comes in the form of a crystallised rock about the size of a raisin (apparently it makes a cracking sound when burnt), usually smoked in a pipe or glass tube or even a simple foil wrap, average purity about 31%. Both powder and crack forms, can be prepared into solution for injection.

Coca leaf for commercial distribution is only grown in three South American countries, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru hence there is no local production of cocaine. Powerful, heavily armed Colombian cartels control the production and worldwide distribution of cocaine and there is suggestion that Colombians residing in the UK are involved in its importation, hence ethnic based crime syndicates are involved in its UK distribution.

Ecstasy is a powerful class ‘A’ synthetic, stimulant drug again classed as a Party Drug. Used recreationally especially in the dance scene (raves), ecstasy is a mood changer that speeds up the bodies system, generating a pleasurable energy buzz with an alert wide-awake feeling usually with the urge to dance. Whether or not ecstasy causes hallucinations is arguable . The primary active ingredient is methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), a white crystalline powder that alone can be known as ecstasy. Ecstasy sold on the street is generally in tablet form of various colours usually with a logo or picture stamped into them. These tablets are very rarely pure, they are cut with cheaper amphetamines or caffeine some are actually fake and contain no active ingredients.

Though there is evidence that Ecstasy is being produced in Asia much of the seized ecstasy in this country has originated in Europe, especially the Netherlands, which is the worlds major producer. Drug syndicates and organised crime groups import the drug, often in conjunction with heroine smuggling, dealt down to reach the young party dweller sourced through friends and acquaintances.

Hallucinogens or Psychedelics, mainly class ‘A’ party type drugs, can be naturally occurring such as Mescaline from the peyote cactus and Psilocybin from certain types of mushroom or synthetic such as LSD (Lysergig Acid Diethylamide), produced by chemical process. They are drugs that affect a person's perceptions, sensations, thinking, self-awareness, and emotions. LSD is sold on the street in tablet or capsule form for oral use but it’s more popular form is impregnated onto absorbent paper such as blotting paper and divided into decorated squares, each square representing one dose. It can also be produced into powder or liquid form that can be snorted, smoked or injected, the liquid form can be rubbed onto and absorbed through the skin to attain the same effect. Normally pure, LSD is very complicated to produce and is not believed that any is manufactured in the UK the bulk found in the UK is imported from the US. Alternatives to LSD are Mescaline, not as strong but its effects are similar, usually smoked or swallowed, comes in capsule and tablet form or Ketamine a synthetic class ‘c’ drug, apowerful general anaesthetic that depresses the nervous system and causes temporary loss of body sensation and causes hallucinations similar to those of LSD.

At this moment in time, Magic Mushrooms, whether raw or prepared (dried or stewed) are graded as class ‘A’ drugs, they can be eaten raw, made into a drink or added to food. About 30 varieties of hallucinogenic mushrooms grow naturally in the UK, available free should one know which to pick and where to pick them. Take care, some fungi is highly poisonous!

Heroin is a highly addictive class ‘A’ drug derived from morphine, which is obtained from the opium poppy, papaver somniferum. It is a depressant that slows down the activity of the central nervous system and interferes with the brains ability to perceive pain (physical and psychological) and hunger, after injecting the effects are immediate, generating a rush of intense pleasure, warmth and well being. Pure heroine (diamorphine) is in the form of a white powder but by the time it has reached the streets and the end user it can be any colour from off white to a dark brown due to the additives that are cut with it. Additives in the past have been found to be nutmeg and brick or gravel dust, more commonly though it is cut with powdered milk, sugar or starch. The end user will have no way of determining the purity or the additives. Usually injected though can be smoked, snorted or its vapour after heating up can be inhaled. There is a cruder form of heroin that is made from codeine, known as home bake. There are also substitutes for heroin that have been developed to tread addicts and wean them away from the drug, these include opiate substances like methadone and subutex.

Opium is grown in many parts of the world including Britain; the bulk illicit production areas are the Golden Crescent (Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan) and the Golden Triangle (Thailand, Burma and Laos) and Mexico and Colombia in South America. Organised crime, Colombian cartels and the Taliban amongst others are involved in the production and importation of heroin and small crime groups are responsible for its local distribution.

Inhalants also solvents, fall into the group of volatile substances whose chemical vapours can be inhaled to produce psychoactive (mind altering) effects. Solvents cover a huge number of everyday substances; cigarette lighter gas, aerosols like hairspray and deodorant, glues, paints thinners and other petroleum products. Most inhalants are depressants; they slow down the brain and central nervous system and create similar effects to alcohol including slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria and dizziness.

Most inhalants are everyday products, which have practical uses, and therefore possession of such items is not illegal. What is illegal is for shopkeepers to sell gas refills and solvent products to persons under 18 years old.

Pharmaceuticals are medicines usually obtained from chemist shops either by prescription or over the counter, their intended use is to cure, treat or prevent disease and illness. Their illicit use classes the drugs as class ‘C’.

Commonly abused pharmaceuticals include painkillers, such as morphine, diamorphine and methadone, Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants, used to tread anxiety and sleep disorders, including barbiturates and Valium,

CNS stimulants (amphetamines), prescribed to increase alertness, concentration and physical endurance, such as benzodiazepines, treatment for insomnia.

Some abusers could mix pharmaceutical drugs into cocktails, without possibly knowing what the resulting effect the cocktail could be?

There are various ways that these drugs can be obtained and traded, direct theft or burglary of the drugs, forged or repeated prescriptions or even illicit Internet sites.

Steroids are synthetically produced variants of the naturally occurring male sex hormone testosterone, “Anabolic” refers to muscle-building, and “androgenic” refers to increased male sexual characteristics. They are prescribed legally for treatment of body wasting diseases such as Aids or cancer and to encourage late puberty.

Mainly abused by bodybuilders to increase muscle bulk and strength to enable longer and harder training sessions, usually injected intramuscularly but can also be in oral form.

Other than by prescription, the use and supply of steroids is against the law, they are illegally obtained over the Internet, by convincing a doctor or vet of their need or from dealers in gyms.

2.2 Analyse the range of crimes committed, which relate to the purchase and supply of drugs.

The definition of a “drug related crime” can be split up into four categories:

1 Psychopharmacological crimes , crimes committed under the influence of a psychoactive substance.

2 Economic compulsive crimes , crimes committed to obtain money (or drugs directly) to support the drug use.

3 Systemic crimes , crimes committed within the functioning of illicit drug markets, as part of the business of drug supply, distribution and use.

4 Drug law offences , crimes committed in violation of drug legislations.

Firstly looking at systemic crimes , these are usually in the form of violence such as threats, assault or murder committed throughout the business of illicit drug markets from the drugs growth/production through to its end use at street level. Violence is used to maintain control in various situations including territorial disputes, punishment, debt and clashes with the police.

In the countries or areas where the drugs are produced, the whole rule of law may become challenged; systemic crimes can go so far as to corrupt banking systems, businesses and even the government, warlike gun battles between organised crime groups/Cartels can not be ruled out.

To understand systemic violence it can be linked to “prohibition”, the dealing of an illicit product generating huge profits where the participants cannot abide by standard law.

Crimes committed by a person with a dependence on an expensive substance, to fund that dependency are classed as Economic compulsive crimes. The commonest form of this is acquisitive crime such as shoplifting, robbery and burglary, either to steal goods to sell on for cash or to directly steal cash to fund ones habit. The forging of prescriptions and the burglary of pharmacies also fall in this category, this could provide drugs to sell on or provide a drug substitute for the offender. The dependent user may also resort to prostitution where he or she may be paid in cash or provided directly with drugs.

Not all acquisitive crimes committed by drug users are opportunistic. Some require skill and planning such as fraud and embezzlement. One may have legitimate employment but may fraudulently claim benefits or steal from ones company’s accounts to illegally subsidise their income to fund their habit.

Drug law offences are violations of drug related legislation. Actual use of the drug, possession, cultivation/manufacture, importation and trafficking of substances are all classed as violations of drug related legislation and are therefore crime. As is laundering any ill gotten gains from such dealings and driving while under the influence of a drugs effects. Laundering is making any illegally earned money appear clean, possibly by passing it through other legitimate businesses or foreign banks.

Psychopharmacological crimes although related to drug crimes are not directly related to the purchase and supply of drugs. They are crimes committed whilst under the influence of a psychoactive substance where the abusers mental state has changed such to cause aggression or violence. The effects of such substances could excite, irritate, generate a fear or mood swing and impair judgement, any of which could eventually lead to criminal action.

This clearly establishes the fact that drug use is directly, very closely related to crime.

Any comments appreciated!


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    • wilbury4 profile image

      wilbury4 5 years ago from England I think?

      I used the course content material, got books from the library and of course, the Internet. Good luck!

    • profile image

      Mark 5 years ago

      where did you tend to look for your information as i am doing my diploma in criminology and i amstruggling to find any decent information