Drugs and Money: Laundering Latin America's Cocaine Dollars

By Robert E. Grosse | Go to book overview

Chapter 15

The Colombian Connection

One of the most difficult aspects of the narcotics money laundering problem is that the activity focuses a tremendous amount of attention on Colombia as the source of the narcotics and the home of the major money laundering rings. While it is certainly true that a huge amount of narcotics production, trafficking, and money laundering occurs in Colombia and by Colombians, still the net result is that many Americans view the drug problem as originating in Colombia.

Of course, this is an incorrect inference, since the drug problem exists due to consumption of the drugs in the United States, accompanied by the production and distribution of the drugs by Colombians (among others). The goal of this chapter is to clarify how Colombia and Colombians fit into the drug trafficking/ money laundering picture and to emphasize the problems Colombia faces as a society in relation to this situation.

The result of this commentary on Colombia will be to demonstrate that: (1) the country most negatively affected by the illegal narcotics trade in terms of crime and law enforcement is Colombia, not the United States; (2) the Colombian authorities have made enormous efforts to deal with the problems involved; (3) Colombian society largely rejects the narcotraffickers as criminals rather than as folk heroes; (4) U.S. policy toward Colombia with respect to the drug problem has been very misguided; and (5) there are a handful of clear and feasible steps that can be taken to improve the situation. Perhaps more than this direct demonstration is the implicit thrust of the chapter—to show that, contrary to much U.S. public opinion, not all Colombians are involved in drug trafficking, and that Americans should be looking for ways to help the Colombians deal with the consequences caused by this societal problem.

Probably the most important starting point is to recognize that the Colombian narcotraffickers did not invent cocaine (or marijuana), nor did they create the

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