HomeNewsBriefInternational Report Links Rising LatAm Drug Abuse to Violence
BRIEF

International Report Links Rising LatAm Drug Abuse to Violence

DRUG POLICY / 2 MAR 2016 BY MIKE LASUSA AND JAMES BARGENT EN

The latest report by the International Narcotics Control Board illustrates the region-wide correlation between developments in drug trafficking, drug use and criminal violence in Latin America.

According to the newly released 2015 report the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the body responsible for overseeing implementation of United Nations drug accords, drug trafficking has not only become a major security threat in the Americas, it is also contributing to rising drug use in countries involved in drug production and transshipment. These local drug markets in turn are generating increases in violence as criminal groups fight over the right to control them.

The report describes “growing concern at the increasing levels of drug abuse” in South America, where conflicts between crime groups over local drug distribution have been tied to rising violence in parts of ColombiaBrazil and Argentina, among other countries.

In Central America and the Caribbean, meanwhile, the INCB linked rising violence in areas where criminals fight to control drug distribution to the increased availability of drugs for sale on local markets.

The rise in the importance of local drug markets and their position as a driver of violence is likely attributable to the fact that drug traffickers are frequently paid not in cash but in drugs, which they sell on in local markets, states the report. According to the INCB, this is not only limited to paying for services with the product being trafficking but sometimes also sees traffickers shipping marijuana with cocaine and using it to pay for transport, storage and distribution services. 

According to the most recent UN drug use statistics, since 2012 use of marijuana has increased from 5.2 to 8.4 percent of the population in the Americas, while cocaine use has increased from 0.8 to 1.4 and opiate use from 0.5 to 2.0.

Speaking at the press conference to present the report in Bogota, INCB's Francisco Thoumi said "It is very difficult for a drug transit or production zone not to end up consuming drugs."

InSight Crime Analysis

The latest INCB report confirms the regional spread of a trend long identified by InSight Crime (pdf); growing drug abuse along trafficking routes contributing to rising violence.

As noted by the INCB, a major factor in this is the increasingly common practice of international traffickers paying for local services with product, an arrangement that is easier for the traffickers and potentially more profitable for their local partners, who can move the drugs on at high margin street prices.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Drug Policy

However, this is not the only factor behind the rise of local drug markets in Latin America. Organized crime networks in places like Colombia and Mexico have also realised the benefits of the small profit, large quantity model of microtrafficking, which may not bring in the astronomical returns of transnational trafficking but is considerably less risky and more reliable.

In addition, the breakup of some of the region's largest criminal organizations into smaller, more localized factions has seen these groups pay more attention to local criminal activities such as drug sales rather than rely exclusively on international drug trafficking. 

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

COLOMBIA / 24 NOV 2017

A year after the signing of the FARC peace agreement, the Colombian government's efforts to end the conflict with the…

COLOMBIA / 26 APR 2018

A US court handed down an 11-year sentence to a former "cocaine cowboy" whose brother is currently fighting deportation from…

MEXICO / 22 APR 2019

Angry street vendors in Mexico City are threatening to form self-defense groups if authorities can't stop the activities of a…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…