01/31/2013 10:44 am ET

Drugs Seizures In Latin America Aren't Having Major Effect On Drug Trafficking

Last year, only a small fraction of illegal drugs was seized in Central America compared to the amount that made its way into the United States, and according to a report from the United Nations, the prevalence of cocaine use in South America, Central America and the Caribbean remains high.

Now, some are saying that drug seizures are not enough to hold drug traffickers back—an article that ran in Panama’s said that “according to journalistic reports, 88 tons of drugs were seized in Central America, but Costa Rican authorities estimate that 900 tons of drugs reach the United States each year.”

The article cited Mexican newspaper Milenio, which wrote last week that around 90 tons of drugs were seized and said that “this figure is way below the enormous flow going from South America, especially Colombia—the world’s main cocaine producer—to the United States, the main consumer.”

As La Estrella said, for some—such as former Panama drug prosecutor Rosendo Miranda—the fact is that authorities lack the capability to seize the amount of drugs being produced. According to Miranda, “the work [to fight drug trafficking] also has to include an element of intelligence to dismantle the structures of drug cartels, which are ‘very well organized.’”

Drug trafficking UN report

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s most recent World Drug Report, from 2012, indicated that while the production of cocaine—one of the main concerns, since trafficking of that drug through the Caribbean had risen dramatically—has declined, global consumption has remained stable.

“This is largely a result of a decrease in cocaine manufacturing in Colombia in the five years up to and including 2010, which was partly offset by increases in both Bolivia (Plurinational State of) and Peru,” the report read.

Since the use of the drug stays the same, so do the consequences.

“The negative health consequences of cocaine use therefore remain undiminished and violence related to cocaine trafficking continues to be an important contributory factor in the affected subregions, some of which are currently experiencing the highest homicide rates in the world,” the UN’s report reads.

Rising violence in key points on the trafficking network, such as in places like the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, has become a huge problem.

The article in stressed that it is simply not enough to seize drugs being trafficked, but that more has to be done to stop it.

At a seminar in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, last month, it was concluded that the lack of adequate technology in ports has been highlighted by an 800 percent increase in cocaine trafficking through the Caribbean over the past two years. In addition, there has been an increase in the use of high-tech submersibles and semi-submersibles for cocaine trafficking.

According to the European Union’s COPOLAD Program (drug partnership cooperation program between the European Union and Latin America), the lack of control and technological resources of the Dominican ports Multimodal Caucedo and Haina pose a major threat to the national security interests of United States and European countries.

The current system in place to control the shipments through the Dominican Republic is inadequate and makes easy the increased violence and the corruption in the country, said the COPOLAD report after a meeting in Dominican Republic with the participation of the head of the anti-narcotraffic offices of 47 countries from Europe, U.S., Caribbean and Latin America, plus the Organization of American States.

Also, the lack of inspections at the Dominican ports increases the threats from the terrorist groups to use containers to hide “dirty bombs” and other dangerous explosives.

Originally published on VOXXI as Seizures not making a dent against drug trafficking



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