Violence Related to Drug Trafficking Still Rising in Latin America

first_imgBy Dialogo February 20, 2009 The level of violence related to drug trafficking and drug abuse has continued to rise in Latin America, ‎despite all government efforts to combat it, ‎ According to an annual report published in Vienna by the International Narcotics Control Board ‎‎(INCB), no countries in the region are free of drug problems, even though there are prominent differences ‎related to production, commerce, and consumption. ‎ In this report, the Andean countries of Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru are still considered the main producers of ‎coca crops and cocaine, which is sold mainly to the United States and Europe by land, air, and sea routes ‎through Central America, and increasingly through Africa. ‎ The report states that, in the three Latin American countries, the total area used for illegal coca crops rose ‎‎16%, up to 181,600 hectares, in comparison to 2007. ‎ Only in Colombia, which is still the main cocaine supplier, the area used for illegal crops reached 99,000 ‎hectares, up 27% from 2006. ‎ The INCB, an autonomous entity of the UN, emphasizes in this document the increasing professionalization ‎of South America’s drug trafficking networks. ‎ These networks have established a system of cooperation between some operations, which “employ ‎specialists” as chemists, ship captains, pilots, and financial analysts for the diverse activities that their ‎criminal business requires. ‎ In Central American countries, which mainly serve as drug routes from south to north, the principal concern is ‎the involvement of criminal organizations called “maras” or street gangs. ‎ ‎“About 5,000 gangs from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras work in Mexico,” composed of young ‎people recruited by drug dealers based in Mexico, the report states. ‎ The INCB also warns that “the increase in deportations from the United States during the last three years has ‎forced many gang members to return to their countries.” ‎ Consequently, 75% of Central American gangs maintain relations with other criminal groups in the United ‎States, which strengthens international criminal associations. ‎ ‎“Corruption, a judicial system short on resources, a lack of public trust, and weak acts of the law” are factors ‎that still hinder the struggle against drugs in the countries of this region. ‎ On the other hand, in Mexico “drug cartels have responded with unprecedented violence” to the authorities’ ‎efforts in combating them, and the number of police officers assassinated has doubled in 2007 and 2008. ‎ As regards consumption, the first comparative study on the use of illegal drugs in six countries in South ‎America named Argentina as the main cocaine consumer, followed by Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, and ‎Ecuador. ‎ Argentina also has the highest number of young consumers, since 25% of them are under 16 years old. ‎Another concern is that posed by “date rape drugs,” substances that criminals give their victims to enable ‎them to commit various offences.last_img

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