A discussion of the transnational trafficking of heroin should begin with a brief history of its immediate predecessors, particularly its fundamental precursor, opium. Since the late 1700s, the processing, use, and products of the opium poppy have been perceived to pose a transnational drug problem of the highest order. Some states have sought to control its use, while other states and/or criminal groups have tried to force its production on less powerful countries whose market they controlled.

The use of opium as an analgesic in antiquity is firmly established, but it was not commonly used in European and American medicine until the 1800s. It was used in Asia, particularly in China, for a wide variety of purposes but was not regarded as a problematic drug until ...

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