Drug Epidemic in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico notoriously has a very bad drug problem. Many of the nation’s citizens awake daily only to fight a constant battle of drug addiction. More recently, the nation has seen an increase in the use of widely-popular drugs such as cannabis and cocaine in addition to an increase in the use of rather unconventional drugs such as horse tranquilizers. This said, in addition to the lingering and persisting drug issues that exist within the country’s borders, Puerto Rico’s drug-related issues extend to many other countries.

The nation acts as the chief drug dealer for many countries located within the Caribbean, South America, and North America. An increasing numbers of stories regarding drug-related arrests and legal cases in Puerto Rico have become apparent across numerous news sites.

The real significance of the country’s involvement in the international drug epidemic, as well as how Puerto Rico’s instituted laws and policies surrounding drugs will be the pertinent questions discussed throughout this essay.

Ultimately, it can be concluded that Puerto Rico does, indeed, play a very significant role in the ongoing drug issue that exists in the Western hemisphere, evidenced by the uprising cases of drug busts seen in the media. Furthermore, Puerto Rico’s currently-established drug policies absolutely enable such felony to exist.

It is seen that Puerto Rico contributes greatly to the multi-country drug issue present in the Western hemisphere. There have been many drug busts where Puerto Rico was caught shipping various drugs to different regions of the United States.

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For instance, just last year, it was announced that five individuals were arrested for shipping a very notable amount of cocaine from Puerto Rico into New York in the United States.

Moreover, the amount of cocaine confiscated was equivalent to $225,000. This significant price tag for a singular drug-smuggling attempt is just one demonstration of the significance of Puerto Rico’s massive participation in an ongoing drug problem. This said, this instance is just one of many intimidating drug stories relating to the nation.

There are also many Puerto Rican injection drug users (IDUs) living in New York. A study in the American Public Health Association demonstrates an experiment that compared injection-related HIV risk behaviours of these individuals to different New York IDUs. It was found that, “Newcomers reported higher levels of risk behaviors than other New York IDUs” (Deren, et al. 812). This demonstrated that Puerto Rico’s influence to the drug-related problems throughout the West goes beyond drug smuggling and transferring; actual addicts from Puerto Rico live in different countries and pose additional threats, such as spreading injection-related HIV.

Furthermore, just two years ago, it was also announced that federal law enforcement and the Puerto Rico government busted and arrested two men from the Dominican Republic who were participating in a 37-million-dollar drug scandal in and around Puerto Rico. 1280 kilograms of cocaine were confiscated, and “much of it scooped from the Caribbean Sea, where the smugglers had tossed the bales” (Alvarez n.p.). Also, it was seen that in the same year, “In April, a boat made landfall in Puerto Rico. Three passengers fled, but agents found 1,530 kilograms of cocaine on the boat. Days earlier, another boatload, this one with 1,774 kilograms of cocaine, was intercepted” (Alvarez n.p.).

Despite this, it has still been noted that only a small number of drugs being smuggled is intercepted. Also, while many scandals such as these undoubtedly exist in the Caribbean area, law enforcement explains that most of the illegal drugs coming out of Puerto Rico make it to the East Coast in the United States. The outrageously expensive and very drug-dense nature of these events surely illustrates Puerto Rico’s very significant role in the drug issues of the Western hemisphere. Moreover, as evidenced by this particular case, the nation played such a significant role in the global drug epidemic that it even attracted smugglers from Africa to participate in this Western region’s misconduct!

Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are not immune to the devastating information regarding Puerto Rico’s drug involvement. Another similar case in Philadelphia demonstrates the nation’s awesome significance in the global illicit drug market. According to the Centro PR Twitter page, “Philly begins to look into the dumping of Puerto Rican addicts” (Centro PR n.p.). More specifically, “The City of Philadelphia has begun scrutinizing Air Bridge, in which Puerto Rican officials dump heroin addicts into dubious drug-recovery houses in Kensington and Frankford” (Lubrano n.p.).

In other words, members of Puerto Rico’s government shipped individuals addicted to heroin to the East Coast of the United States for rehabilitation, and Philadelphia was not very pleased with this influx. This indicates that there is a serious drug problem within the borders; many citizens are addicted to heroin. This also indicates further how influential Puerto Rico is to the Western drug problem; the nation exports addicted individuals to various locations throughout the hemisphere. It becomes very clear that the nation plays a very significant role in multi-country drug-related issues.

The policies and laws that exist within Puerto Rico in relation to drug regulation only cause the country to regress in the overarching goal to reduce illicit drug addiction and interaction. Firstly, there is absolutely a drug issue within the nation. As previously discussed, many citizens are addicted to heroin. However, many citizens are also addicted to less popular, less conventional drugs. For example, One of the island’s most common drugs, mainly for being cheaper than others and producing a strong high effect, is Xylazine, better known as horse tranquilizer. This new medication, introduced in the early 2000 is primarily produced to be used by veterinarians as an anaesthetic for dental work or castration in horses. (Ramos n.p.)

This sort of drug is very similar to psychoactive drugs and triggers many odd physical effects in humans, but is studied and used much less than more conventional drugs. Heroin, Xylazine, and other drug addictions persist throughout and around the nation despite the government’s established drug laws and policies. Puerto Rico currently criminalizes imposing harsh punishment upon those who either possess or distribute drugs (“NORML.org – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws” n.p.). Given the fact these extreme addictions, and drug-related instances coexist with these laws, it can be concluded the laws are not effective at deterring individuals from drug use.

Continuing, research suggests the criminalization of drugs is not effective at reducing the prevalence of drug use and abuse within a nation. For example, according to The Economics of Prohibition, “drug prohibition in recent years has raised drug prices so high that many buyers commit crimes to pay for drugs” (Thorton n.p.). In other words, when governments criminalize drugs, people simply commit crimes in order to get drugs. It can be seen that laws that prohibit the usage of drugs do not effectively cause people to stop obtaining them. This study refers to trends that were visible in the 1990s; however, these trends are also visible today.

The drug activity in and around Puerto Rico is a prime example of such prohibition not being effective. The current policies dictate that those who possess drugs will be punishment via incarceration and fines. Despite this, heavy drug possession and use still endure throughout the country. Further research is necessary to conclude if decriminalizing drugs in Puerto Rico would reduce the level drug activity.

This said, there does exist some level of work aimed at effectively lowering drug activity and drug-related illness within Puerto Rico. According to a recent blog post, a certain drug policy reformer created one of the largest needle exchange programs in the country. Such programs help prevent the spread of injection-related diseases such as HIV. The Drug Policy Alliance honored this individual. It was seen that:

This week we are honoring Rafael Torruella, a living example of what it means to be a drug policy reformer, in the broadest sense of the term. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he grew up witnessing the problems associated with drug use and drug control policies; in Puerto Rico over 40 percent of new HIV infections are caused by use of contaminated syringes. Rafael knew there was a problem with the way the government dealt with drug use, with the marginalization of people who use drugs. (Drug Policy Alliance n.p.)

This indicates that even some citizens within the country and laypeople recognize that the government does not handle drug use within the country well. Not only does addiction persist, but when it does, those who are addicted are not cared for properly. Addiction is very powerful, and is frequently seen as an illness, one that comes with prejudices and struggles just like any other illness (Tagliamonte n.p.). This said, punishing those who are addicted, and locking them away, provide no hope that they can recover in the future. Also, the fact such policy reformers exist and are so prevalent and powerful further suggests there are many flaws with the established policies. Perhaps it is not very easy or convenient for the government to alter their policies or decriminalize illicit drugs, but that is no excuse if their goals are directed towards reducing and eliminating the drug crisis in and around the nation.

Overall, it becomes very clear that Puerto Rico has a serious drug problem. In, around, and far outside of the country, individuals are being seriously impacted by addiction, addiction- related disease, and crime associated with illicit drugs. It is also clear Puerto Rico contributes heavily to drug-related issues all throughout the Western hemisphere, and has even attracted drug traffickers from different continents. From smuggling drugs into areas surrounding Puerto Rico, areas around the Caribbean, and along the East Coast of the United States to exporting heroin- addicted individuals with the potential to spread HIV to New York and Philadelphia, it is very evident Puerto Rico plays a very significant role in the drug-world.

Furthermore, despite the nation’s government instituting policies aimed at reducing the drug-use within the nation, and aiming to deter individuals from possesses or distributing drugs, the drug scene continues to prevail, and drug use continues to increase in capacity. If Puerto Rico wants to reduce the overall drug prevalence in and around the nation, it will absolutely need to consider alternative policies rigorously. This said, additional research is needed to conclude anything absolutely.

Cite this page

Drug Epidemic in Puerto Rico. (2023, Feb 15). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/the-international-drug-epidemic-in-puerto-rico-and-its-significant-role-in-the-ongoing-drug-issue-in-the-western-hemisphere/

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