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Free American Crime Drama Film Traffic Essay Sample

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The movie starts in Mexico. Javier Rodriguez (Benicio Del Toro), a police officer, and his partner intercept transportation of drugs and arrest the individuals who were transporting the drugs. However, General Salazar, a Mexican official of high ranking, interrupts the arrest and orders Rodriguez to locate and arrest Frankie Flores, a hit man for a notorious drug cartel. As these activities are taking place, Robert Wakefield, (Michael Douglas) becomes the head of National Drug Control earning him the title of Drug Czar. His predecessor and some politicians warn Wakefield that it is impossible to win the war against drugs. The complexity of solving the war against drugs dawns on Wakefield when he discovers that his daughter, Caroline (Erika Christensen), is a drug addict. This is despite the fact that his wife, Barbara (Amy Irving), had known of the addiction for over six months and kept it secret from him. This discovery makes Wakefield fight a personal battle in his war on drugs.

Meanwhile, in San Diego, Montel Gordon (Don Cheadle), a detective leading an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) operation, apprehends Eduardo Ruiz (Miguel Ferrer), a drug dealer. To get immunity, Ruiz decides to give information on his boss, drug kingpin Carlos Ayala (Steven Bauer), the largest drug distributor for the Obregon brothers. This leads to the prosecution of Ayala by a tough prosecutor who intends to use the prosecution to send a message to other drug lords.

After so much torture, Flores gives General Salazar names of people who run the Obregon Drug Cartel. The police and the army arrest these people, and the operations of the Obregon brothers start to cripple. However, Javier and Manolo (Jacob Vargas), his partner, discover that Salazar is also involved in the complex drug trade. Salazar wants to cripple the Obregon brothers’ drug cartel so that he may facilitate the operations of a rival drug cartel, which offers him financial rewards.

After Wakefield discovers that Caroline, his daughter, is a drug addict, he unsuccessfully tries to rehabilitate her. However, when he returns from Mexico, he finds that his daughter escaped into the city, and no one knows her whereabouts. Unknown to her parents, Caroline becomes a prostitute to obtain money to procure the drugs.

The trial of Ayala begins, and his wife, Helena (Catherine Zeta-Jones), tries to take measures to ensure that the court does not convict his husband. Helena hires Flores to kill Ruiz, the main witness in the trial and end the trial due to the lack of evidence. Meanwhile, Manolo gives the DEA information on the secret activities of Salazar only to be killed for his betrayal. On realizing the involvement of the DEA in underhand drug activities, Javier cuts a deal with FBI and the federal government. Detectives arrest Manolo and torture him to death after his activities become public.

Wakefield searches for his lost daughter and drags Seth (Topher Grace), Caroline’s boyfriend, to help in the search. The search leads Wakefield to a hotel room in Cincinnati, where he finds his daughter semi-conscious prostituting for an old man. Wakefield later returns to Washington DC to deliver a speech on how to combat drugs. However, during his speech, he falters and tells the press that he cannot endorse the war on drugs as the war is against many of people’s own family members. He quits his job thereafter.

A sniper hired by the Obregon brother’s cartel assassinates Flores before he gets the chance to kill Ruiz. Helena makes a deal with Juan Obregon (Benjamin Bratt), the leader of the drug cartel. This makes Juan facilitate the killing of Ruiz. With Ruiz dead, the police release Ayala. Meanwhile, Wakefield and his wife begin attend to Narcotics Anonymous meetings to support their daughter. Javier Rodriguez takes the media to Mexico and explains to them how corruption is widespread in the police and the army. The film ends as Javier is watching children playing baseball at night in a stadium.

Evaluation of the film from a border vantage point

Drug trafficking is an extremely lucrative business worth billions of dollars. Huge sums of money tempt law enforcement agencies in the border to be corrupt and make money out of the illicit trade. Low pay of law enforcers makes them easily accept the vast sums of money that drug lords offer them to continue with their illicit trade. Highly ranked officials who should help in preventing drug trade, help in fueling the growth of the illicit trade. This makes work of morally right junior officers be extremely difficult. Their seniors ensure that they always face barriers.

Traffic portrays the border people as people whose main concern is the financial benefits of drug trafficking. The drug lords seem to be immensely powerful people. It is fruitless to go against them. People who go against them end up dead. The drug lords use death threats and money to help in fueling their trade. Salazar is one of the main beneficiaries of the drug trade. Mexicans seem to fall prey to the enticements of the drug lords. Necessity makes people engage in drugs. Both male and female engage in drug trafficking. Helena engages in drug trafficking, to continue enjoying the lavish lifestyle that she has. Despite Javier’s effort to help tackle the problem, he is unsuccessful. The police release Ayala to continue dealing with drugs. Drug traffickers have a highly efficient system that ensures that people who want to hamper their trade end up dead. This forces some people to succumb to the wishes of the drug lords.

Poverty is the main reason that forces people to engage in drug trafficking. Javier realizes that effective tackling of drugs necessitates agencies to not only target the drug lords, but also try to reduce the factors that pull people into the illicit trade. Javier provides lighting to his village to ensure that people will not engage in the illicit trade.

The film is spot on issues of drug trafficking. Poverty is indeed one of factors that make people venture into drug trade. Drug lords have vast sums of money that they use to entice people to join the trade. If drug lords are unable to get help from some officials, they may either blackmail or kill the officials. Corruption makes drug lords traffic drugs easily as they can pay border officials vast sums of money to ignore trucks that transport drugs and let them cross the border. Thus, corruption is the greatest impediment to the war against drugs. 

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