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Drug Trafficking: Central America’s Dark Shadow

Friday, August 19, 2011 By Lauren Mathae, Council on Hemispheric Affairs | News Analysis
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  •  Drug trafficking through Central America is more threatening than ever before.
  •  To combat high levels of organized crime, cartel activity, violence, and institutional corruption, Central American countries must develop coordinated efforts and joint security measures, with a particular focus on community development.
  •  The U.S. must recognize its role in the crisis and implement long-term financial and social commitments, and work toward effective policy changes to reduce the nation’s persistent demands for drugs.

For years, Central America has served as a one-way transit route for drugs traveling north toward the United States. Now, with increasingly frequent crackdowns on drug trafficking in Mexico and continued U.S. demand, Central America has become a pivotal route; an astonishing 84 percent of illegal cocaine that reaches the U.S. passes through Central America. Colombia and Mexico are the predominant producers of narcotics, and the resulting drug trafficking throughout Central America cannot be ignored. As Francisco Campbell, the Nicaraguan Ambassador to the U.S., remarked to a COHA audience, “Unlike the imaginary threats of the past, this one is real. This is the first time we can talk about an honest hemispheric threat.” Central America needs to implement integrated and viable security strategies to ensure hemispheric security, while the U.S. must refocus its efforts and assume greater responsibility as the largest consumer of Latin American drugs.

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Drug Trafficking: Central America’s Dark Shadow

Friday, August 19, 2011 By Lauren Mathae, Council on Hemispheric Affairs | News Analysis
  • font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size
  • Print
  •  Drug trafficking through Central America is more threatening than ever before.
  •  To combat high levels of organized crime, cartel activity, violence, and institutional corruption, Central American countries must develop coordinated efforts and joint security measures, with a particular focus on community development.
  •  The U.S. must recognize its role in the crisis and implement long-term financial and social commitments, and work toward effective policy changes to reduce the nation’s persistent demands for drugs.

For years, Central America has served as a one-way transit route for drugs traveling north toward the United States. Now, with increasingly frequent crackdowns on drug trafficking in Mexico and continued U.S. demand, Central America has become a pivotal route; an astonishing 84 percent of illegal cocaine that reaches the U.S. passes through Central America. Colombia and Mexico are the predominant producers of narcotics, and the resulting drug trafficking throughout Central America cannot be ignored. As Francisco Campbell, the Nicaraguan Ambassador to the U.S., remarked to a COHA audience, “Unlike the imaginary threats of the past, this one is real. This is the first time we can talk about an honest hemispheric threat.” Central America needs to implement integrated and viable security strategies to ensure hemispheric security, while the U.S. must refocus its efforts and assume greater responsibility as the largest consumer of Latin American drugs.