Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Mom and Pop' Drug Runners Replace Cartels

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Mom and Pop' Drug Runners Replace Cartels

Article excerpt

The international drug trade is booming. But it's also changing, dramatically.

The large cartels that ship thousands of tons cocaine, heroin, and marijuana through clandestine international corridors to your neighborhood street corner are increasingly being replaced with smaller organizations. Some are less sophisticated "mom and pop" operations, others are highly refined spinoffs of the traditional mafias.

Experts credit law enforcement's success in targeting the larger cartels for much of the change. But the ironic result is that more drugs are moving across porous borders in smaller bundles. And law enforcement has just made its own job even harder. "There is very little good news to report on the war on drugs," says Alain Labrousse, director of the Observatoire Geopolitique de Drogues (OGD), an independent Paris-based think tank that tracks the drug trade. Every year, OGD takes a snapshot of the world drug trade using information collected from a 60-country network of law-enforcement contacts, private think tanks, academics, and the media. OGD's report, World Geopolitics of Drugs, was released yesterday and concluded there are still large cartels in Mexico and Burma, and medium-sized organizations in Colombia, Brazil, and Pakistan, but a "massive" number of smaller operations have sprung up along side of them. Colombia is a case in point. For years it was dominated by the Medellin and Cali cartels. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, they were targeted by a sophisticated international antidrug operation that cracked the cartels' hierarchical center. Today, officials estimate there are 40 medium-sized organizations and an astounding 3,000 "mom and pop" operations filling the cartels' void. Those groups are made up of small-time thugs, but also families who send a relative living abroad a kilo or two of cocaine to sell. As a result, the same amount of drugs is exported, but in smaller, more-difficult-to-detect amounts. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.