Trains, Planes, Automobiles: Transnational Drug Distribution Networks in the Americas

Saturday, January 6, 2018: 9:30 AM
Columbia 8 (Washington Hilton)
Elaine Carey, Purdue University Northwest
During U.S. Prohibition, federal agents targeted bootleggers and organized crime members who smuggled alcohol, but these same groups also engaged in drug distribution. After Prohibition, they created sophisticated and complicated transnational business structures and networks. To illuminate the historical complexities of transnational drug trafficking, I examine overlapping organized crime networks that created these early networks that have endured over decades. In the 1930s, the Beland family of Texas became transnational traffickers after the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) disrupted a Jewish criminal organization. The Belands, an Anglo-Texan family, worked and coordinated with Mexican organized crime from the 1930s to the 1960s to move drugs from the border to major cities in the United States. Thirty years later, Corsican traffickers collaborated with Mexican organized crime after a series of raids and arrests in Canada and the United States. They moved their center of distribution from New York and Montreal to Mexico City. In these two cases, the networks of drug distribution overlapped to move Asian and Mexican heroin to sites of demand in cities such as New York, Detroit, Chicago, Montreal, and Toronto.
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