Terrorism and Guerrilla Warfare: Forecasts and Remedies

By Richard Clutterbuck | Go to book overview

Chapter nine

Cocaine

The narcotic supply chain

The cultivation, processing, transport, and distribution of narcotics is probably the greatest single generator of political violence and crime in the world. Its profits are used to finance and arm rural guerrillas, urban terrorists, and criminal gangs and to facilitate the trade by intimidation and corruption and by keeping the army and police away. In certain countries it is now a far more potent motivator of terrorism than Marxist ideology or religious fundamentalism. In some of these it dominates the national economy and governments govern by its leave. And almost all of this is ultimately financed by the money extracted from drug addicts on the streets of the western world, so this is where the problem must be tackled.

There is a small, lawful, production of narcotics for medical purposes-e.g. cocaine as an anaesthetic, morphine processed from opium-but this can be tightly controlled and is quite insignificant in relation to the quantity of drugs used illegally.

The estimated annual world profits from illegal drug-trafficking are $300 billion and there has been an estimated rise of 10-15 per cent per year and possibly a great deal more than this. Precise estimates are difficult because, if traffickers are blocked in one area, they switch to another. This could prove to be the most dangerous of all the threats to the democratic way of life in both rich and poor countries. The cocaine trail permeates and poisons the societies of the main producing countries (Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia), through the transit areas (mainly in the Caribbean and Mexico), to Florida and thence to the rest of the USA and Europe. The peasants who cultivate the coca get a price suf-ficiently attractive for them to resist any attempt to force them to grow other crops instead, and in this they are assisted by guerrilla movements who gain their support by protecting them from the

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