New strategies and new markets: narcotics trafficking changes directions

By Alejandro Vassilaqui
Executive director of the Information and Education Center for the Prevention of Drug Abuse (CEDRO)

Translated and reprinted from the opinion page of El Comercio.

Times change and so too does drug trafficking, to its advantage. It has the capacity to adjust to change with all the speed required for effective marketing. According to reliable sources, today cocaine from South America that reaches Europe is 95 percent from Peru. The methods to determine this origin are based on analysis of seizures of drugs, the relation of radio isotopes of carbon and nitrogen, and analysis of the detectible differences in traces of alkaloids, which vary according to the valley (where the coca used to produce the cocaine was grown).

With reference to consumption, epidemiological studies in developing nations as much as in European countries are starting to reflect similar statistics regarding the use of cocaine-based drugs: 2003 prevalence, in Spain 2.4 percent among the population aged 15 to 64; and in England and Wales, 2.7 percent among the population aged 16 to 59.

Peru exports to its neighbors. Argentina is one of them, where cartels have been detected trying to replace the U.S. market, which five years ago was much more lucrative. In these Mafias, unfortunately, there are Peruvians involved who give a bad name to their compatriots who, with hard work and honesty, are trying to build themselves a future in other countries.

As far as raw materials are concerned, the production and supply is driven by organizations and interested parties that are in one form or another linked to narcotics trafficking.

The Upper Huallaga Valley is the scene where this dynamic is evident: Coca fetches 10 soles, or about $3.65, per kilo more than in the Apurímac and Ene river valleys, or VRAE, where the price is six soles, or about $2.20.

And in the face of this is a population in which the adolescents and children are the principal victims. It has caused the horrible case of children forced by their parents to smuggle drugs in their intestines.

It is, also, not unusual to learn about young backpackers killed on the drug routes and about many others risking their health and their lives as drug smuggling “mules.”

None of this bothers the narcotics traffickers and their accomplices. It is a merciless business in which any means justify the ends: the greatest consumption possible, whether it be in Europe, America, Asia or whatever setting is favorable.

Drug trafficking kills in a number of ways, including those who infringe on its codes or do not honor their commitments. Drug trafficking produces a criminal class that takes care of the dirty jobs, while the population keeps count, unfortunately often in silence, of the apparently inexplicable deaths and disappearances.

Today, more than ever, the concept of shared responsibility has a moral imperative that should translate into concrete action aimed fundamentally at the most vulnerable population. Today, more than ever, we must not be silent.

Sharing is caring!

Comments are closed.