The Power of Central America's Drug Traffickers

Do these countries have a real chance of stopping drug trafficking, in the context of economies like Guatemala's where the value of the drug economy is double the country's GDP?

Friday, August 13, 2010

In 2007, just 1% of all South American cocaine sold in the USA passed through the region. Now the figure is between 60% and 90%.

While Mexico is the country that makes international headlines for its daily panorama of death and corruption caused by drug traffickers, other nearby countries are also severely affected by the violence. In Honduras 15 people are killed every day from a population of only 7 million.

The lastest report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says that the level of murders in Mexico is 12 per 100,000 inhabitants while in Guatemala the figure is 49, one of the highest in the world.

And if Mexico's institutional integrity is threatened by the drug trade, what can smaller countries do that have always had weaker political and legal structures?

More on this topic

Drugs Trafficking and US "aid"

September 2010

Central American Nations should say "NO, THANKS", if results from said "aid" are going to be similar to what's going on in Mexico.

The inclusion of Costa Rica in the U.S. Government's list of the countries most affected by illegal drug trafficking confirmed what Costa Ricans already knew: Drug Trafficking has become a very serious issue.

Organized Crime in Central America

June 2010

Lack of investment and development has triggered the establishment of criminal gangs in the border areas of Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

This was one of the findings of a study by the Institute of Strategic Studies and Public Policies (IEEPP). Javier Meléndez, advisor of the Institute, commented that “Organized crime has profited from these vulnerabilities, by providing ‘job’ opportunities for the local population, which ends up contributing to the logistics and operations of trafficking drug between Colombia and United States”.

Drug Trafficking in Costa Rica On the Rise

March 2013

In only one year, seizures of cocaine have doubled, totaling over 15 tons with a U.S. market value of $2 billion.

Costa Rica, the Central American country noted for its economic development, its institutions, and social peace, is part of the land corridor where there is an increase in the operations of Mexican and Colombian cartels to transport drugs to the United States, the largest consumer of drugs in the world.

Central America: Drug Traffickers Rise to Power

November 2015

The unprecedented increase in violence in Costa Rica, once an oasis of peace in the region, is another sign of the failure of the traditional methods of fighting drugs.


More powerful than the Central American states, drug trafficking is on the rise not only in terms of an increased supply of drugs in the countries in the region, but through its permeation of institutions using the power of money and generating a growing culture of violence that is making Central America´s lack of a death penalty seem risible. Yes it does exist, but the worst part about it is that it is not institutionalized justice systems that implement it, but the mob bosses, pointing out -to ever younger executioners- the people who should be executed.

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