Five Kilos: Penalties and Practice in the International Cocaine Trade

Fleetwood, J. 2011. Five Kilos: Penalties and Practice in the International Cocaine Trade. British Journal of Criminology, 51(2), pp. 375-393. ISSN 0007-0955 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Current and proposed sentence guidelines for drug-trafficking offences in the United Kingdom are underpinned by the neo-liberal ‘commonsense’ assumption that greater quantities will yield a greater profit, which deserves greater punishment. At present, this is achieved through the use of weight to determine the maximum sentence available (five kilos for Class A drugs). Drawing on ethnographic research with drug traffickers imprisoned in Ecuador, this paper problematizes the use of weight as a measure of seriousness. This research finds that mules often carry greater quantities than professional traffickers and that therefore sentence guidelines premised on weight will punish mules disproportionately.

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drug mules, neo-liberalism, sentencing guidelines, drug trade

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1 March 2011Published

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11 Aug 2017 10:54

Last Modified:

11 Aug 2017 12:44

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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