Haitian Smugglers Raise the Stakes on Miami River


For the past years Customs Inspectors have been playing a cat and mouse game with drug smugglers. One of the lessons the latter have clearly learned is to analyze every Customs success and to adapt their techniques to minimize the ability to seize their drugs again in the future.

This moves to deeper and harder concealment means. That’s why discovering cocaine on freighters has become more time consuming, costly, and more dangerous for U.S. Customs officers. It also means that the smugglers must spend more time and money in finding places to hide their cargo from the Customs Service.

The most recent seizures were all discovered within the keel of the boat used to smuggle the contraband. This is an extremely difficult area for Customs officers to examine. During an examination of one of the vessels, Customs officers accidentally cut through the outer skin of the vessel and had to call in commercial divers to patch the vessel from the outside before it sank. Customs decided to place the remaining suspicious vessels into dry dock to remove the cocaine.

The smuggling groups have adapted their smuggling techniques or are waiting to see if the Customs officers will divert their attention. During these ‘lulls’, the burden for developing actionable intelligence on where drugs are concealed falls back on the Office of Investigations (OI). For example, on the Miami River this means that agents focus informants and investigations on finding out which vessels are being used to smuggle drugs and where they are hidden. The latest seizure of more than 3,200 pounds of cocaine is directly attributable to information developed by the Office of Investigations from its sources.

Operation Riversweep has demonstrated that making smugglers adapt to the success of Customs officers costs them money. Not long ago Haitian smugglers paid more than $50,000 to have cocaine secreted below the water line of vessels in Haiti.

Operation Riversweep has also been very costly to the smugglers in terms of seizures of goods. Recently 17 vessels have been seized and 32 individuals have been arrested.

The new question is going to be where they will conceal their cocaine next. Perhaps the South Florida Mobile Response Team and the Miami Seaport Anti-Smuggling Unit will soon be sponsoring dive trips in the Miami River looking for containers attached to the bottoms of vessels like parasites.

(By Matthew Allen, Smuggling Division, Office of Investigations)

Exercise 7.Translate the following words and word-combinations:

обнаруживать наркотики; тратить больше денег; прикреплять контейнеры ко дну корабля; прятать кокаин; погружение; изъятие наркотиков; привлекать к уголовной ответственности; важное достижение; отдел по борьбе с контрабандой; нелегалы; киль судна; задерживать; дорогостоящий; бремя (ноша); группа быстрого реагирования; играть в «кошки-мышки».

Exercise 8.Agree or disagree with the following. Give your arguments.

1. Smugglers change their techniques to minimize the danger to be caught.

2. Discovering drugs on freighters has become more costly for the customs.

3. Agents focus informants and investigations on finding out vessels at risk.

4. Haitian smugglers pay less to hide their contraband.

5. Anti-Smuggling Unit is sponsoring dive trips in the Miami River looking for containers attached to the bottoms of vessels.

Exercise 9. Read and translate the text below.


Text 2*


Drug Control Officials Are Warned of Growing Threat from ‘Meth’


Among illegal drugs, methamphetamine now has more users worldwide than cocaine and heroin combined. This statement comes from the chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration in the United States. (During the training the Agents of DEA are provided in undercover, surveillance and arrest techniques, defensive tactics and firearms training, as well as the basics of law and drug identification and recognition. In addition, they participate in a rigorous physical fitness programme).

Marijuana is still the most widely used illegal drug, with an estimated one hundred sixty million users. Meth is relatively easy to make and low cost. Users become highly dependent. And they can become violent or depressed. The drug is destructive to the body and the environment. The chemicals used to make it are poisonous and explosive. Even small laboratories in homes can require costly cleanup.

The National Sheriffs’ Association said: “The war on drugs in America is currently facing its most difficult and most dangerous challenge to date as a result of methamphetamines”. The increase in production is of growing concern to law enforcement officials around the world.

Officials say they have made some progress over the past year. Law enforcement officials raided a major methamphetamine laboratory in Indonesia. The seizure was a joint effort of the D.E.A. and agencies in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore.

Also, Afghanistan cooperated with the United States to surrender drug leaders who supported the former Taliban government. And Israel surrendered one of its citizens to face American charges of being a major trafficker of the drug ecstasy.

Among Arab governments, Dubai is moving aggressively to fight drugs. Efforts include educational campaigns and drug treatment programmes. United Nations officials estimate that Arab countries have at least five hundred thousand users of illegal drugs.

The United Nations estimates that users worldwide spend more than three hundred twenty thousand million dollars each year.

Exercise 10.Answer the following questions:

1. Who works in DEA?

2. What is a DEA “Special Agent”?

3. What drug is mostly used in the USA? Why?

4. What is the biggest concern of law enforcement agents?

5. What countries united in fight against drug trafficking?


Text 3


Word Study


Exercise 11. Study the meaning of the following words and word combinations:

to uncover – раскрывать, обнаруживать

blind – штора, жалюзи

sewer – сточная труба

obstruction – заграждение

discarded – негодный, списанный

flashlight – карманный фонарь

pick – кирка

drainage pipes – сточные трубы

lucrative – прибыльный, доходный

bricks – брусок

mule – sl. контрабандист наркотиков

Exercise 12.Read the text below to write some questions about the situation with drugs in Mexico.

Agents Uncover Drug Tunnel: 840 Pounds of Cocaine Seized*

One of the most ingenious smuggling operations was discovered along the Arizona border with Mexico where local Customs found seven hand-dug tunnels leading to a cross-border sewer system. In all, Customs seized 2.5 tonnes of cocaine in the sewers.

Customs special agents of Nogales discovered a tunnel that was used to smuggle narcotics into the country from Mexico. The discovery led to the seizure of 198 cocaine-filled bricks weighing 840 pounds, with an estimated wholesale value of $ 6 million.

This is the sixth drug tunnel found in Nogales since 1995. The discovery came as agents were conducting an investigation at a residence suspected of drug smuggling.

When agents attempted to perform a search at the home, there was no response. Agents then looked into a window and saw a significant amount of dirt between a window and the window blind, leading to believe that the suspects had been digging. Suspicions grew with the locations of the home being approximately three-quarters of a mile from the Mexican border.

Agents contacted the owner and asked him to meet them at the house. The owner agreed but never appeared for the meeting. Customs agents then asked the Sewer Department to conduct a survey of the sewer in front of the home.

The sewer department placed a robotically-controlled camera into the sewer and discovered a man-made obstruction in the vicinity of the home. The agents pulled the camera approximately 500 feet through a 24-inch corrugated pipe and discovered discarded batteries, flashlights, and twine. The hand-dug tunnel had bare light bulbs running along the ceiling that ran from the home to the sewer system. An adult man could not stand up inside of it, so the drugs were placed in a sack and pulled through the tunnel.

The digging of tunnels such as the one found in Nogales are very crude. These tunnels are dug with a pick and shovel, with little engineering going into them. That is why these tunnels are very dangerous.

Nogales has a concrete-lined drainage ditch that runs underneath the city and into Mexico. Smugglers use this large covered ditch to bring narcotics into the country.

Once in the ditch, they then enter smaller drainage pipes that connect to the larger wash – “then they break through the smaller pipes and then physically dig the tunnels that connect the sewer system to a home or business. The end result is a route that runs completely underground from Mexico into Arizona.”

Drug smugglers use ‘mules’ to smuggle narcotics through the flood control channels and man-made tunnels. This element of the smuggling chain is extremely dangerous. Those who work in these tunnels come in contact with diseases, brutality, and the possibility of a tunnel collapsing and burying them alive. Customs agents are continuing their investigation.

Exercise 13. List the measures taken by law enforcement agencies to seize cocaine batch.

Exercise 14. Interpret the phrase: “The diggings of tunnels as the one found in Nogales are very crude”.

Exercise 15. Give a short reviewing of the article.


Talking Points


Exercise 16. Here are some opinions about the article: important, well presented, persuasive, dull, contains sufficient evidence, wrong, topical.

Which ones do you agree with? Justify your choice.

Exercise 17. Work in small groups:

a) describe the search in the house

b) describe the manner in which the drug tunnel was made

c) describe the people who work as ‘mules’.

Exercise 18. Write a report on uncovering drug tunnel in Nogales as if you were Richard Cramer.

Text 4

Word Study

Exercise 19. Study the meaning of the following words and word combinations:

zero tolerance – the policy of punishing someone, even for a minor offence;

to decriminalize – to make something legal;

to eradicate – to get rid of something;

recreational use – using drugs occasionally, to relax, not an addict;

addicted to – when you cannot give something up;

intravenous – injecting drugs into a vein;

to educate – to inform;

high – under the effect of drug;

a ‘coffeeshop’ – in the Netherlands the term ‘coffeeshop’ has come to mean a place where hashish and marijuana are available.

Exercise 20.Read the title and introduction to the text and answer the questions:

1. What problem is discussed in the text?

2. What is a ‘coffeeshop’?

3. Is the crime rate in Holland increasing?

4. What steps does Holland take to combat smuggling?

5. What can you order in a ‘coffeeshop’?

6. Is there any drug ‘menu’?

7. What “services” are there in a ‘coffeeshop’?


‘Coffeeshop’ Situation

Amsterdam’s relaxed policy towards the legal availability of high quality weed and hash is common knowledge all over the world but the word coffee shop in Amsterdam means something totally different to what coffee shop means in any other country around the world. The Dutch join the two words together (coffeeshop) and it takes on an entire new meaning. A ‘coffeeshop’ in Amsterdam is not just your average coffee shop.

These places vary in size and style but not all sell coffee even though most have coffee for sale as their primary purpose is the selling of cannabis and hash.

All of them are licensed by the Amsterdam city council and subject to numerous regulations. Meanwhile, the rest of the world continues its unending ‘war on drugs’.

So the government reduced the amount of soft drugs an individual can possess, from thirty grams to five. But maybe Holland should go further. If they decriminalize drugs, maybe they can wipe them out altogether, just like France and America.

No matter what happens in the long run, every person can still go into any ‘coffeeshop’, proudly march up to the bartender, and announce in a loud voice: “I want to buy some hashish, and then I’m going to smoke it”. Most places will even have rolling papers and filter tips on the bar.

There are several types of hash and pot, which have been bred to produce different highs. Each ‘coffeeshop’ has its own name for its weed, even if it comes from the same place. Just don’t let the big menu scare you. (Yes, they have a menu.). Hash comes in two basic varieties: blond and black. The black hash hits a little harder and knocks you out a little more. Locals smoke the lighter stuff.

Any place that calls itself a ‘coffeeshop’ is saying three things: 1) I have pot and hash for you to buy. 2) For the price of a coffee or beer, you may sit here and smoke your own as well. 3) You may also smoke on my outdoor terrace even in front of the police.

There are at present around some 300 licensed ‘coffeeshops’ in Amsterdam but the number is half what it was 10 years ago and the 70 odd bar/‘coffeeshops’ which sold alcohol and cannabis known as cannabis cafés are almost all gone with one or two only left and very soon they must also decide if they are a bar or a ‘coffeeshop’, new law says they cannot be both.

Exercise 21. Translate the paragraph which describesa ‘coffeeshop’.

Exercise 22. Find the paragraphs which describe best the struggle of other countries with drug abuse.

Exercise 23.Summarize the text by listing:

a) the ways to stop crimes

b) the arguments against selling drugs in coffee shops

c) the steps the countries should take to solve the problem.

Exercise 24.Fill in the gaps using the words from the box.


to distribute, drug abuse, improvements, dealers, go away, sensitive, cartel, approaches, education, acquaintances, argue, profitable, authorities


Text 5

A Major World Problem

Nobody doubts that the world faces a major problem with the illicit use of drugs. It touches all our lives and few can claim to have been unaffected by it. We have learned of drug abuse among our friends and (1) ________, within our own families and in our own neighbourhoods. Most of us have personal knowledge of individuals who have died through (2) ________, and we all know people who have suffered because of it.

Three approaches

There are basically three (3) _______ to dealing with the drug problem: “try harder”, “get tough”, and “get soft”. The first proposes continuing with more-or-less the present system of restricting the use of “controlled substances” by a confusing combination of (4) ________, medical provision, miscellaneous taxation, and occasional criminal sanctions for unauthorized distribution and use. Despite repeated failures, it is believed that (5) ________ in the system can yet be made and the problem solved.

The second proposes “cracking down” on drugs, eliminating the problem “once and for all”. The rhetoric (though not the practice) of the so-called “war on drugs” falls in this camp. Greater police powers and tougher sentencing, it is claimed, will put all the (6) _________ behind bars and save our children from the menace of illicit drugs.

The third proposes legalizing the sale of drugs across the board, in the belief that this will make the problem (7) _________. It’s not the drug that’s the menace; it’s the laws against them. If we didn’t have the laws, we wouldn’t have a problem.

The (8) ________ reader will already have detected a degree of cynicism in my description of these three approaches. Their apologists (or so it seems to me) seldom attempt any honest evaluation of the situation, or of the merits of other options, or of the demerits of their own position. Instead they (9) _______as dogmatists, emotionally tied to a single point of view: “liberal democracy good”, so carry on regardless; “drugs bad”, so declare a moral war; “freedom good”, so legalize everything.

Today’s drug dealing is probably the world’s most (10) ________crime. The Colombian international drug (11) ______, “Kali”, which monopolizes the trade in Los Angeles and Miami, is estimated (12) _________ over 80% of the world’s cocaine and a third of its heroin.

Illegal drug syndicates are estimated to take in about $25 billion a year in the United States alone. In 1998, 59 tons of cocaine and 770 pounds of heroin were confiscated by American police (13) __________.

(Paul Birch “Analysis of the Drug Problem”)

Talking Points

Exercise 25.Get ready to speak onthe major problem connected with the illicit use of drugs:

a) three approaches to dealing with the drug problem;

b) world illegal drug syndicates.

Exercise 26. Express your opinion on the problem of smuggling. Use the expressions:

I don’t care much for …

I am not very fond of…

I’d rather …

Exercise 27. Role-play.

Your country has recently seen a big increase in drug use amongst the young. The government after looking at the different approaches of Holland and New York – has called on your committee to produce a range of ideas to lead the fight against the drugs menace.

In groups of four or five, you need to think about:

- new laws, whether to penalize drug use/the drug trade or to legalize certain aspects of it (give details about these laws);

- actions to educate the public against the dangers posed by drugs;

- other measures you think might be effective in the war against drugs.

Focus on Grammar

Exercise 28. Open the brackets using Passives.

1. Drugs often (portray) as a threat of enormous proportions.

2. More and more extreme measures (introduce) to win the war on drugs.

3. Interdiction efforts (direct) at drug trafficking across the globe.

4. Most of the current media and public attention (focus) on the matter of terrorism.

5. The cocaine, stored in metal drums marked as containing polyester resins, (discover) in the false walls of six containers.

6. Colombian authorities (aid) by a recent cooperation agreement with the United States aimed at strengthening narcotics detection.

7. A broad ring of people (involve) in organized illegal drug activity.Exercise 29. Change the sentences into Indirect Speech.

Start with “The Customs officer told the passenger…”

1. “Show me your passport, please”.

2. “Open your case for examination, please”.

3. “That’s all right! You may pass on”.

4. “You’ll have to pay duty on this”.

5. “I must confiscate these goods”.

6. “Please, fill in this form”.

Exercise 30. Change the sentences into Indirect Speech.

Start with “The passenger said…”

1. “This is my hand luggage”.

2. “I have only personal belongings”.

3. “I have only got some presents”.

4. “I’d like to phone to the embassy”.

5. “Here is my passport. I need an interpreter”.

6. “I need legal help”.

7. “This is a gift for a friend”.

8. “I’m travelling with my family”.

9. “I’m visiting my relatives”.

10. “I have nothing to declare”.

11. ”I plan to stay here for two weeks”.

Exercise 31. Choose the correct tense forms of the verbs in brackets.

1. They (work) in the restaurant at the weekends?

2. She (listen) to the radio in her bedroom at the moment.

3. They (not come) to the academy every day.

4. You (work) now?

5. The children (go) to bed at eight o'clock.

6. I (leave) the office every day at five.

7. I’m sorry I can’t talk to you now. I (go) out.

8. Customs inspectors (work) at the airport at the moment?

9. They (not go) to the meeting very often.

10. You (go) into the office every month?


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