CW2 – Globalisation, Crime and Control Drug Trafficking Event:Pablo Escobar and the formation of the Medellin Cartel in 1976 Intro: Theterm “drug trafficking” does not have a specific definition.
However, the UNOffice on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) defines drug trafficking as “a global illicittrade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale ofsubstances which are subject to drug prohibition laws” (Albanese, 2014). Animportant event which is fundamental for the understanding of the extent towhich globalisation contributed to drug trafficking was the founding of theMedellin Cartel by Pablo Escobar in 1976. This contributed for the expansion ofCocaine trade from Colombia, through the rest of South America and even toEurope. This essay will be discussing the extent to which this caused anincrease in the production, sale and consumption of this substance.Additionally, there will be an in-depth discussion about the way in which theprocess of globalisation contributed and even facilitated this expansion.
Thiswill, therefore, be analysed from a Transnational Criminology point of view. Cocainere-appeared in the 1970s as the champagne of drugs due to its high economicvalue and the lack of serious consequences – also, the steady decrease ofpricing helped this substance to attract producers and users. Although the socalled “war on drugs” was happening in the US, it did not stop at least 6million Americans from using cocaine on a regular basis during the late 70s and80s (Drug Enforcement Museum & Visitors Center, n.d.). Although thismight overlap with the theme of drug trafficking, it will only be brieflymentioned so that this provides a clearer understand about the extentglobalisation has impacted the manufacturing, selling and usage of drugs ingeneral. The structure of this essay will be as follows: there will be athorough discussion about the extent to which the formation of the cartelcontributed for the increase in the global trade of cocaine, followed by acritical evaluation about what this massive increase meant for the world in termsof economics and drug control, especially at a time where the US was and stillis imposing very harsh sanctions for drug use and offences.
The essay will alsomake use of statistics and graphs taken from trusted sources in order tosupport the information provided and to provide a better understanding of thematter being discussed. Main Body Beforeany critical analysis, it is worth looking at how drug trafficking took”advantage” of globalisation. The drug boom of the 1960s allowed drug trade toliterally take off on the wings of globalisation. This meant that with all the technologicaland transportation advances, the sale of drugs could reach beyond its countryof production – which made it grow into the biggest industry in the world(Albanese, 2014). In 1976, Pablo Escobar gave the biggest boost in theproduction of cocaine. The formation of the Medellin Cartel meant that Colombiawas about to start a new era for drug trafficking.
Along with the cartels, camean increase in violent crime in Colombia – mainly as an attempt to demonstrateauthority to the rest of the population and to the government as well. Cartels,in especial, the Medellin Cartel, benefitted from the protection of the socalled Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – the way in which thiscontributed for the successful transnational trade of cocaine will be discussedlater in this essay. Theproduction of cocaine is very specific to one section of the world – its leafwould only grow in certain climates, which are very much exclusive to SouthAmerica (Buxton, n.d.). This is demonstrated by the fact that Colombia, Boliviaand Peru are the main cocaine producers in the world, with a productionpercentage close to 100% (UNODC, 2011). Image 1.0Main Cocaine Producers in relation to hectares of plantation (McCarthy, 2016) Bylooking at this chart, one may ask the question: where does all the drug go?Statistics demonstrate that only 19% of the cocaine produced was consumed inSouth American countries (UNODC, 2011).
So, what motivates the population of thesecountries to help traffickers? As mentioned earlier, FARC is, in a way, themain cause. This organisation offers money and protection for farmers whoproduce the coca plant. In order to understand this, it is worth looking at theeconomical situation of those living in such countries. Majority of thesefarmers have no choice but to accept the money offered by the guerrilla tosurvive – the lack of jobs and help from the government also influences theirdecision. However, the most important factor is the use of violence andthreats. This violent culture dates to the formation of the Medellin Cartel,where violence was used as a demonstration of power and authority. TheColombian government intervened with measures such as the implementation of thePlan Colombia in 1999.
Although this programme aimed at controlling theproduction and trafficking of drugs domestically, as well as trying to tacklemilitary groups such as FARC, it had transnational ramifications as well. Thisis demonstrated by the intervention of the US President Bill Clinton, where heagreed to contribute with $1.3 Billion for a period of 9 years (Buxton, n.
d.).Plan Colombia had 3 main goals: “1) reduce the flow of illicit narcotics andimprove security, 2) promote social and economic justice, and 3) promote therule of law” (GAO, 2008). The goal wasthen to attack the supplier and eradicate the production of the coca bush,consequently, leading to less cocaine flowing through transnational routes andreaching the rest of the world (Albanese, 2014). From a non-drug related pointof view, Plan Colombia was successful in the on recaptured many of the farmsand roads controlled by FARC (ibid). However, coca production simply moved toareas of more difficult access, which did not stop its production.
In contrastwith this information, eradication efforts managed to destroy about 165,000hectares of coca bush farms (ibid). Onthe other hand, cocaine production in all 3 targeted countries only decreasedby 15%, which is way below its 50% target – this is due to the so called”balloon effect”. By diminishing the production of coca bush in Colombia, theglobal demand for cocaine increased, which led to countries such as Bolivia andPeru to boost their production in order to meet transnational demands.Therefore, it is possible to conclude that, whilst the government aimed atreducing the international traffic of cocaine, it in fact, contributed to theexpansion of coca bush production in other countries. Like a balloon, “nomatter how hard you squeeze one side, the air will always flow to other areas”(Albanese, 2014). Ofall the cocaine produced in these countries, the US consumes an estimatedamount of 88% – which leads us to question the extent to which the “war ondrugs” is successful in tackling drug abuse.
However, statistics like theseclearly demonstrate that this war, which has been going on for more than 30years, is being won by drug use and trafficking. Although there has been anincreased presence of US vigilance in south American countries since 1971,America has been unable to eradicate or even control the production of illicitdrugs and has failed to stop it from leaving South American borders. (Drug Policy Alliance, 2017). David Harvey(1990) points out that globalisation has allowed an “increasing speed ofcommunication (…), the shrinking of space and the shortening of time” (cited inAas, 2013).
In this context, one can see that the communication betweenindividuals in different parts of the world is much easier now than 30 yearsago. The so called “shrinking of space” relates to the fact that, whilst yearsago a ship would take weeks and even months to cross the Atlantic to get toEurope, planes can do that in hours. In general, the production of drugs isexpanding even to developing areas such as south Africa, Kenya and Congo (BBC, 2000). Bylooking at this from a Transnational Criminology point of view, one can see theextent to which this became an issue which can no longer be controlled by onenation. Cocaine, unlike the other drugs produced in South America has acentralised production, which makes it easier to track where all the drug goes.Themain routes for the cocaine traffic are demonstrated in the image below. Image 1.1 MainCocaine Trafficking Flows, 2011-2015 (UNODC, 2017b)The green areas representthe countries where the most amount of cocaine is apprehended – therefore,indicating that these are the main routs of trafficking.
Brazil being thebiggest country in South America, is considered to be the main outbound routeto Europe, Africa and Asia. It`s lack of border security and an outrageousnumber of criminal organisations allow the easy transportation of cocainethroughout the country. Another factor which facilitates the drug flow fromBrazil to the rest of the world is the Port of Santos. This huge port allowscocaine and other substances to be easily shipped into the rest of the worldwithout much problem. As shown in the graph, the main trafficking occursbetween Colombia and Mexico and to the US. The main in-route to the Africancontinent is through West Africa and to Europe, cocaine is mainly receivedthrough Portugal and Spain. With so many in and out routes, one may ask whatcan anyone do to stop or control this? The US has been, ever since 1971,imposing tough sanctions in order to control the amount of cocaine beingsmuggled into the country.
The graph bellow relates to the amount of cocaineseized in 2009 alone. On the other hand, it is important to note that these areonly the amount recorded of cocaine which was seized, which means that theamount of cocaine which successfully got into the country was much larger.Image1.2 Cocaineseized by land 2009 in kilograms (US Department of Justice, n.
d.)In the same year,Albanese (2014) states, the US spent an estimated $50 billion on efforts totackle drug smuggling into the country. America is considered the unofficialinterdiction leader. This is a process where the illegal substances are seizeddirectly from the hands of traffickers whilst in-route to the destination. Themain objective behind interdiction is that, by seizing the substance, the valueof the same will increase and, consequently, causing its consume to decrease (Chepesiuk,1999). Recently, the US have been using its military force to police itswaters, air traffic and land. Although the above chart may create a sense of asuccessful operation, in reality , experts suggest that in order for the “waron drugs” to be won, the percentage of drugs being seized need to reach atleast 70% (Grug Policy Alliance, n.
d.). Unfortunately,as demonstrated by Image 1.1, it would be impossible to block every route oftrafficking – which makes, in a way, drug trafficking easy, successful andprofitable. This results in the consumption not decreasing and, if in a way itdid, this would be more profitable for traffickers, as prices for thesubstances would rise. Conclusion In conclusion, theformation of the Medellin Cartel contributed for the expansion of drugtrafficking to such extent that, now days, it is impossible to regain controlof all the routes used.
It is impossible to talk about drug trafficking withoutmentioning the “war on drugs”, and for sure, up until now, the drugs arewinning. Although organisations try to tackle the use of harmful substances, itis now up to the governments of each country to try and work on therehabilitation of individuals. However, we all agree that it is easier to bepunitive than rehabilitative in a society where the main propaganda used bypoliticians is the tackling of drug use and trafficking. Bibliography · BBC. (2000). BBC News | WORLD | Globalisation boosts drugprofits. Retrieved November 5, 2017, from http://news.bbc.
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