HomeNewsBriefRecord Year for Colombia Marijuana Interdiction But Cocaine Seizures Dive
BRIEF

Record Year for Colombia Marijuana Interdiction But Cocaine Seizures Dive

COLOMBIA / 8 JAN 2014 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Marijuana seizure rates in Colombia reached their highest levels for 20 years in 2013 while cocaine seizures plummeted dramatically compared to the previous year, illustrating evolutions in Colombian drug production but also raising questions over interdiction efforts.

Authorities seized 347 tons of marijuana last year, 50 tons more than in 2012. The increase fits in with a long term trend that has seen seizures rise by 350 percent since 2008 and represents the biggest annual haul since 1993, reported El Tiempo

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

However, the official figures show authorities only seized 70 tons of cocaine in 2013, representing a drastic fall from 2012 — although quite how much cocaine was seized in that year is difficult to say for sure: By some counts it was a record 241 tons, however Ministry of Defense figures (pdf) suggested a lower total, while the US State Department an even higher total.

Authorities also announced they had seized 375 kilos of heroin and 184,000 pills of synthetic drugs.

InSight Crime Analysis

The continuing rise in marijuana seizures should come as no surprise. An estimated 70 percent of Colombian marijuana ends up on the domestic market, which in recent years has become an ever more important source of revenue for both criminal and rebel groups as they diversify their criminal interests.

The guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in particular have cashed in on the domestic marijuana boom, and are believed to be behind the trade in two of the country’s main production centers — the southern department of Cauca and the eastern department of Meta.

The narco-paramilitary groups labeled the BACRIM (from the Spanish abbreviation for “criminal bands”) also have a role in the trade, and control production in the traditional marijuana heartland of the northern department of Magdalena, according to police.

However, the dramatic decrease in cocaine seizures is far more difficult to explain. While according to the United Nations, coca cultivation in Colombia has fallen, cocaine production has remained stable, and has certainly not decreased sufficiently to account for such a drastic drop.

This leaves the possibility that drug traffickers have successfully adapted to counter interdiction efforts after losing large quantities 2012 by increasing use of sophisticated and difficult to detect trafficking techniques, such as the use of submarines, or through new methods or tactics.

Whatever the reason, the decline is a stark reminder of the adaptability of drug traffickers, who inevitably respond to interdiction successes by evolving, not by abandoning their lucrative business.

*This article was amended on January 1 to include contrasting statistics on 2012 cocaine seizures

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Tags

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 19 OCT 2016

Security forces in Colombia are continuing operations against the country's second-largest rebel group ahead of planned peace talks, a possible…

COLOMBIA / 3 DEC 2013

Twenty years ago, on December 2, 1993, Pablo Escobar, the pioneer of Colombia's cocaine trade, was killed on a rooftop…

COLOMBIA / 19 JUL 2016

Evolving relationships with criminal and paramilitary actors in several areas of Colombia could complicate efforts to establish concentration zones intended…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…