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 / 19 APR 2022

Recent sanctions imposed by the United States on the Kinahan Clan, arguably Ireland’s most powerful organized crime group, have brought…

COCAINE / 21 APR 2022

The indictment of former Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández has revealed that he is accused of receiving millions in drug…

COCAINE / 17 NOV 2022

InSight Crime sat down with Suriname's President Chan Santokhi to discuss the multiple criminal challenges ahead for the country.

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…