the 19th century when Americans first discovered new wonder drugs
like morphine, heroin, and cocaine, our society has confronted
the problem of drug abuse and addiction.
When the 20th century began, the United States--grappling with
its first drug epidemic--gradually instituted effective restrictions:
at home through domestic law enforcement and overseas by spearheading
a world movement to limit opium and coca crops. By World War II,
American drug use had become so rare, it was seen as a marginal
social problem. The first epidemic was forgotten.
During the 1960s, drugs like marijuana, amphetamines, and psychedelics
came on the scene, and a new generation embraced drugs. With the
drug culture exploding, our government developed new laws and
agencies to address the problem. In 1973, the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration was created to enforce federal drug laws. In the
1970s, cocaine reappeared. Then, a decade later, crack appeared,
spreading addiction and violence at epidemic levels.
Today, the DEA’s biggest challenge is the dramatic change
in organized crime. While American criminals once controlled drug
trafficking on U.S. soil, today sophisticated and powerful criminal
groups headquartered in foreign countries control the drug trade
in the United States.