Almost everyone can agree that drugs are a problem in current American society. Not only in the US, but everywhere. Many, however, fail to realize where the narcotics and controlled substances come from, and the economics of smuggling them into the United States. There are many drug cartels in the world, but the majority of the street drugs found in America originate from South America. different regions of South America, however, have differences in their major cartels, such as volumes of product, economics, methods, and what is being done to prevent them from spreading.
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One of the ways that South American countries, differ in operation is their volumes of products. One country stands out more than all the rest in regards of the sheer volume of products being exported and shipped into the United States. Finkenauer explains that “Mexican drug traffickers are the primary transporters of the major narcotics imported into the United States”.
Other countries are more responsible for providing the drugs which go first through Mexico, then to the United States. As stated by Dudley,“Local and foreign narcotics agents in the Northern Triangle said that the two countries facing the greatest threats due to the presence of Mexican DTOs are Honduras and Guatemala. These two countries also see the most trafficking: In 2009, an estimated 200 metric tons passed through Honduras, and an estimated 250 tons went through Guatemala”.
Marijuana is the drug which is produced and taken more than any drug worldwide. According to Legget, “Marijuana is the world’s most widely cultivated and consumed illicit drug”. Interestingly enough, most of the world’s cannabis supply can be traced back to one country, according to estimates. Legget explains “the bulk of global cannabis production occurs in an area of about 231,000 hectares, of which more than half are in Morocco”.
To put this into perspective, morocco is a country which is approximately 44655021 hectares of land area. If Morocco grows approximately half of the world’s marijuana (115,500 hectates of marijuana fields) this means that for every 386 hectares of normal land, 1 hectare is being used to grow and cultivate marijuana.
The methods of manufacture and smuggling of these drugs vastly differs from country to country. Of course, these illicit substances are not typically able to be simply shipped across the borders by conventional methods. Drug cartels must be able to hide these in regular shipments, in hidden compartments or decoys, or by their own methods entirely. Colombia is at the forefront of this, scheming up many creative and innovative ways to smuggle substances like cocaine into the United States.
According to Dubmo, “submarines are capable of carrying as much as eight tons of cargo. Filled with cocaine, that’s a street value of nearly $200 million. The subs themselves can cost $2 million to build and often feature snorkels, radar, and air-conditioned sleeping quarters for at least a captain, navigator, and a guard”. Mexico tends to use conventional methods of hiding narcotics in plain sight within normal border crossings. “tractor-trailer transporting legitimate cargo may also contain hidden bales of marijuana; a legal immigrant might carry concealed parcels of heroin through a border checkpoint; or a passenger car may contain bags of cocaine in a tyre or in secret compartments”.
Unfortunately, another method that is being employed in order to smuggle drugs across the border is Wildlife. As Speart reported, “according to a USFWS annual report, of 653.95 pounds of cocaine seized in 1993, more than one-third involved wildlife importation. The report also noted that such shipments appear to have significantly increased”.
Animals both alive and dead are being exploited in order to smuggle narcotics into the United States. Speart also speculated “Methods vary. In the past, there have been rumors of drugs slipping into the United States inside hunters' trophy heads, and hashish was found concealed in containers of water buffalo hides, their centers cut out to hold up to 300 pounds of the drug”.
Different governments are taking various measures in order to stop the manufacture and sale of narcotics. Many South American governments are working to stop the production of illegal substances at the source. As stated by Rivas, “Currently, a 17-step chemical process is used to transform poppy into an opioid painkiller. Some of these steps are processes that naturally occur in the plant, producing the opiates morphine, codeine and thebaine.
Others are synthetic processes performed in factories and produce higher-value drugs, like oxycodone and hydrocodone.” Many governments are using the fact that cartels grow such large quantities of poppy flowers in order to eradicate their main source of products such as Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Codiene, and Morphine. As stated by Dudley, “Guatemala eradicated a record 1,300 hectares of poppy in 2009, while Colombia eradicated 546 hectares.”
The United States has taken an approach of calling on other countries where it is mutually beneficial for both countries to cooperate on an issue such as this. “From trade to drug trafficking and energy to economic develop- ment, there are many issues that are important to the Governments of Mexico and the United States. As President Vicente Fox of Mexico de- clared prior to the United States-Mexico summit, however, the most pressing issue between the United States and Mexico was drug trafficking and drug consumption”.
As you can see , there is many details and secrets of the drug trade that are kept hidden by mainstream media, and often ignored by society. Different regions of South America have vastly different ways of running, and operating their cartels. It is important to know this information in the hopes of stopping the spread of addictive and deadly substances throughout the United States, and the world.