Drug trafficking is considered an international issue that involves many countries. Some countries are mainly producers, others are consumers, and some others serve primarily as transit areas. The fight to combat drug cartel operations and eradicate drug trafficking world-wide has been an issue for governments for several decades.
According to the CIA Factbook 2007, reports show that the worldwide coca leaf (cocaine) cultivation in 2005 amounted to 208,500 hectares. “Colombia produced slightly more than two-thirds of the worldwide crop, followed by Peru and Bolivia. Potential pure cocaine production rose to 900 from 645 metric tons in 2005 - partially due to improved methodologies used to calculate levels of production. Colombia conducts an aggressive coca eradication campaign, but both Peruvian and Bolivian Governments are hesitant to eradicate coca in key growing areas. 551 metric tons of export-quality cocaine (85% pure) is documented to have been seized or destroyed in 2005. US consumption of export quality cocaine is estimated to have been in excess of 380 metric tons”.
Still, according to the CIA Factbook 2007, “worldwide illicit opium poppy cultivation reached 208,500 hectares in 2005; potential opium production of 4,990 metric tons was only a 9% decrease over 2004''s highest total recorded since estimates began in mid-1980s. Afghanistan is world''s primary opium producer, accounting for 90% of the global supply. Southeast Asia, responsible for 9% of global opium, saw marginal increases in production. Latin America produced 1% of global opium, but most was refined into heroin destined for the US market. If all potential opium was processed into pure heroin, the potential global production would be 577 metric tons of heroin in 2005.”
Billions of dollars in net revenues from drug trafficking each year is the most powerful incentive for production. The powerful drug cartel leaders are the richest criminals in the world. One leader, Carlos Lehder, proposed to pay Colombia''s entire foreign debt of about US$13 billion and invest capital in national development programs in exchange for immunity from prosecution and extradition on drug trafficking. With the help of US Drug
Enforcement (DEA), the Colombian anti-narcotics police captured and extradited Lehder to the U.S.
Investing their profits in land and industry, the drug cartel leaders become major landowners. In order to protect their “assets”, they began to create private armies. Assassination of politicians, attorneys, lawmakers, presidential candidates, law enforcement agents and government authorities are the most frequently used tactics for intimidating people and controlling their actions.
In 1989, the USA offered US$65 million in emergency aid and logistical support to the Colombian government to combat drug trafficking and arrest drug cartel leaders. As a result, they confiscated 989 buildings and ranches, 367 airplanes, 73 boats, 710 vehicles, 4.7 tons of cocaine, 1279 guns and 25,000 rounds of ammunition. The drug dealers responded with a huge campaign of terrorism, masterminded by “El Mexicano” Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha. A massive manhunt culminated in his death.
All the top leaders of the Medellin Cartel, one the most famous drug cartels, are either dead or in jail. Narco-terrorism sank at the same time, but drug trafficking was not affected. It''s possible that the surviving bosses joined the Cali network, forming a new mafia more powerful than has ever existed in Colombia.
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