Drug Trafficking in Latin America
More than 60,000 people have died in Mexico in prohibition-related violence since President Felipe Calderon launched his war against drug trafficking in 2006.
Latin America is a crucial geographic zone for drug production and trafficking. The Andean countries of Colombia, Peru and Bolivia are the world’s main cocaine producers, while Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean have become the principal corridors for transporting drugs into the United States and Europe.
As a result, the countries of the region have suffered various consequences of drug trafficking and US-led eradication and interdiction efforts. In production countries, these include environmental and community damage from forced eradication of coca crops such as aerial spraying and the funding of guerrilla insurgent groups through illicit crop cultivation and sale, most notably, FARC in Colombia and the Shining Path in Peru. Throughout the entire region, in both drug production and trafficking areas, there has been an upsurge of violence, corruption, impunity, erosion of rule of law, and human rights violations caused by the emergence of powerful organized crime groups and drug cartels. Central America is now home to some of the world’s most dangerous cities, with the highest global homicide rate found in Honduras, at 82.1 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. The region has become unsafe for human rights defenders and journalists that expose the violence; for politicians and security officials that refuse to be corrupted by drug trafficking groups; and, most of all, for its citizens that get caught in crossfire between rivaling gangs.
Increasingly, Latin American policymakers are speaking out against prohibition and are highlighting its devastating effects on the hemisphere. Uruguay became the first country to legalize marijuana in 2013. DPA is working to keep Latin American leaders, officials and civil society informed on drug policy issues, with the aim of ensuring that the dialogue on alternatives to the war on drugs continues.