HomeNewsAnalysisWeekly InSight: Coca, Cocaine and Colombia
ANALYSIS

Weekly InSight: Coca, Cocaine and Colombia

COCA / 16 JUN 2017 BY INSIGHT CRIME EN

In our June 15 Facebook Live session, Co-director Steven Dudley and Senior Investigator Héctor Silva Ávalos talk about InSight Crime’s special investigation of the criminal economy in Nariño, Colombia and the impact the country’s peace process is having on the regional cocaine trade.

The conversation opened with Dudley breaking down a recent back-and-forth between US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Senator Marco Rubio about the Colombia-FARC peace process and the country’s cocaine boom. During the congressional hearing, Tillerson hinted that Colombia should resume its aerial coca fumigation program, a strategy that arguably failed to effectively address coca cultivation in the long term. And some top US officials seemed to backtrack, a contradictory dynamic that both speakers agreed seemed commonplace in the Trump administration.

Silva then talked about the local illicit economy in the Colombian department of Nariño and how it shows the complexity of the country’s coca dilemma. Silva described the first phase of the cocaine trade, beginning with the cultivation of the coca leaves by small farmers who then process it into a coca paste, which is later sold to more sophisticated intermediary groups that move it to criminal organizations who process and export the final product: the powdered cocaine.

Circling back to Tillerson’s comment on aerial fumigation, Silva explained how that approach mostly affects "cocaleros," the coca growers at the bottom of the cocaine chain.

"In the province of Nariño, coke is all that there is," he said, "There is no other crop that will produce the same kind of profits."

The absence of the FARC in coca-producing regions is strongly felt by these local communities, Silva said.

"Due to the lack of the Colombian state, the FARC, in practical terms, was the state. They were referees for a lot of things, including the economy," he said. 

At the same time, armed actors like paramilitaries and FARC dissidents, are taking advantage of the guerrilla group's demobilization, which has led to more violence in these areas, explained the field investigator.

Dudley and Silva also took a broader look at the global drug trade, where both cocaine production and consumption are increasing.

In the end, controversial strategies like aerial coca fumigation have proven to be unviable over the long term, and they ignore the role that poor economic conditions and corruption have on the growth of coca plantations in Colombia.

Watch the Facebook Live broadcast for the full conversation:

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COCAINE / 29 JUN 2022

Turkish and foreign law enforcement have seized record quantities of cocaine heading from South America to Turkey, revealing the growing…

COLOMBIA / 19 JUL 2012

The FARC's claim to have shot down an air force plane in Cauca, one of Colombia’s most fiercely contested regions,…

ARGENTINA / 18 SEP 2018

Government control strategies, and technological advances are forcing criminal groups to update their drug trafficking techniques.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Oceans Pillaged in Central America and the Caribbean

5 AUG 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the first installment of a nine-part investigation uncovering the hidden depths of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in Latin America. The first installment covered Central America and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela’s Tren de Aragua Becomes Truly Transnational

29 JUL 2022

This week, InSight Crime published a deep dive into the total control that Venezuelan mega-gang, Tren de Aragua, has over the lives of those it smuggles between Venezuela and Chile…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkish Traffickers Delivering Latin American Cocaine to Persian Gulf

15 JUL 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the second half of an investigation piecing together the emerging role of Turkish cocaine traffickers in supplying Russia and the Persian Gulf, which are among…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkey as a Lynchpin in European Cocaine Pipeline

8 JUL 2022

InSight Crime is extending its investigation into the cocaine pipeline to Europe, and tracking the growing connections between Latin American drug traffickers and European criminal organizations. This led us to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Memo Fantasma Coverage Gets Worldwide Attention

1 JUL 2022

Guillermo Acevedo, the former Colombian drug lord and paramilitary commander better known as Memo Fantasma, may soon be allowed to leave prison. Since first revealing the identity of Memo Fantasma…