Injecting Drug Users' Experiences of Policing Practices in Two Mexican-U.S. Border Cities: Public Health Perspectives

International Journal of Drug Policy, Public Health Perspectives, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 324-331, 2008

Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-14

29 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2008 Last revised: 20 Mar 2009

Cari L. Miller

British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS; University of British Columbia (UBC)

Michelle Firestone

University of California School of Medicine, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Division of International Health & Cross-Cultural Medicine

Rebeca Ramos

Programa Companeros

Scott Burris

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Maria Elena Ramos

Programa Companeros

Patricia Case

Harvard Medical School

Kimberly C. Brouwer

University of California San Diego, School of Medicine

Miguel Angel Fraga

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Steffanie A. Strathdee

University of California, San Diego – School of Medicine, Division of Global Public Health

Date Written: December 11, 2008

Abstract

Background: Previous research has identified the impact of law enforcement practices on the behaviors and health of injection drug users (IDUs). We undertook a qualitative study of IDUs' experiences of policing practices in two Mexican cities on the U.S. border.

Methods: In 2004, two teams of Mexican interviewers conducted in-depth interviews with IDUs residing in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez (Cd. Juarez), Mexico who had injected drugs at least once in the prior month. Topics included types of drug used, injection settings, access to sterile needles and experiences with police. Field notes and transcribed interviews were analyzed to identify emergent themes.

Results: Among the 43 participants, most reported that it is common for IDUs to be arrested and detained for 36 hours for carrying sterile or used syringes. Most reported that they or someone they knew had been beaten by police. Interviews suggested 5 key themes relating to police influence on the risk environment: 1) impact of policing practices on accessibility of sterile syringes, 2) influence of police on choice of places to inject drugs (e.g., shooting galleries), 3) police violence, 4) police corruption, and 5) perceived changes in policing practices.

Conclusion: Findings suggest that some behavior of police officers in Tijuana and Cd. Juarez is inconsistent with legal norms and may be negatively influencing the risk of acquiring blood-borne infections among IDUs. Implementing a comprehensive and successful HIV prevention program among IDUs requires interventions to influence the knowledge, attitudes and practices of law enforcement officers.

Keywords: Enforcement, Injection Drug Use, Mexico, Drug Policy, Police, Public Health

Suggested Citation

Miller, Cari L. and Firestone, Michelle and Ramos, Rebeca and Burris, Scott and Ramos, Maria Elena and Case, Patricia and Brouwer, Kimberly C. and Fraga, Miguel Angel and Strathdee, Steffanie A., Injecting Drug Users' Experiences of Policing Practices in Two Mexican-U.S. Border Cities: Public Health Perspectives (December 11, 2008). International Journal of Drug Policy, Public Health Perspectives, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 324-331, 2008; Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1314775

Cari L. Miller

British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS ( email )

608 - 1081 Burranrd Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 1Y6
Canada

University of British Columbia (UBC)

2329 West Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia BC V6T 1Z4
Canada

Michelle Firestone

University of California School of Medicine, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Division of International Health & Cross-Cultural Medicine

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093-0507
United States

Rebeca Ramos

Programa Companeros ( email )

Av de la Raza #2643
Ciudad Juarez
Mexico

Scott C. Burris

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
215-204-6576 (Phone)
215-204-1185 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.phlr.org

Maria Elena Ramos

Programa Companeros ( email )

Av de la Raza #2643
Ciudad Juarez
Mexico

Patricia Case

Harvard Medical School ( email )

250 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Kimberly C. Brouwer

University of California San Diego, School of Medicine ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093-0507
United States

Miguel Angel Fraga

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Steffanie A. Strathdee (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego – School of Medicine, Division of Global Public Health ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

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