Drugs are related to crime in multiple ways. Most directly, it is a crime to use, possess, manufacture, or distribute drugs classified as having a potential for abuse. Cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and amphetamines are examples of drugs classified to have abuse potential. Drugs are also related to crime through the effects they have on the user’s behaviour and by generating violence and other illegal activity in connection with drug trafficking. The following scheme summarise the various ways that drugs and crime are related.
Drug trafficking generates violent crime
Trafficking in illicit drugs tends to be associated with the commission of violent crimes. Reasons for the relationship of drug trafficking to violence include:
- competition for drug markets and customers
- disputes and ripoffs among individuals involved in the illegal drug market
- individuals who participate in drug trafficking are prone to use violence
- Locations where street drug markets proliferate tend to be disadvantaged economically and socially; legal and social controls against violence in such areas tend to be ineffective.
The proliferation of lethal weapons in recent years has also likely made drug violence more deadly.
BJS examined homicides in the 75 most populous counties in the United States in 1988. Many of the homicides involved drugs or drug trafficking, including the following: drug manufacture, dispute over drugs, theft of drugs or drug money, a drug scam, a bad drug deal, punishment for drug theft, or illegal use of drugs. One of these circumstances was involved for 18% of defendants and 16% of victims.