According to the International Narcotics Control Board latest report, in Guatemala, Central America and the Caribbean drug trafficking has become a major security threat and has an impact on the increasing drug abuse and homicides linked to organized crime. Drug trafficking is often protected by local gangs, maras, that appear to have established criminal associations with Mexican drug cartels. At the presentation of the annual report on February 24, 2010, in Vienna, Sevil Atasoy, President of the International Narcotics Control Board, INCB, stressed in her speech that International drug control efforts cannot be successful in the long term without continuous efforts to reduce the demand for illicit drugs.
Report on Central America and the Caribbean
Drug trafficking has become a major security threat and has an impact on the increasing drug abuse and homicides linked to organized crime. Drug trafficking is often protected by local gangs (maras) that appear to have established criminal associations with Mexican drug cartels. Despite new regulations implemented in several countries, the region continues to be used for smuggling precursors into Mexico, which are increasingly trafficked in the form of pharmaceutical preparations. While transport by sea remains a major problem, drug trafficking by light aircraft is on the rise, in particular with stolen or falsified aircraft registration numbers. For example, in May 2009, a light aircraft bearing a Venezuelan flag and operated by Colombian nationals crashed in Honduras.
Approximately 1,647 kg of cocaine were seized at the scene of the crash. Jamaica continues to be a major producer and exporter of cannabis in the Caribbean and Central America, where cultivation appears to be decreasing in several countries, including the Dominican Republic and Cuba as well as Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras.
Cocaine seizures have increased significantly in El Salvador in recent years (with seizures of 39 kg in 2005, 108 kg in 2006, 4,074 kg in 2007 and 1,354 kg in 2008). Jamaica seems to be assuming greater importance for trans-shipment of cocaine bound for the United States and the United Kingdom. There was significant increase of heroin trafficking cases in the Dominican Republic in 2008, during which a total of 120 kg of the drug were seized. Costa Rica is faced with a resurgence of LSD trafficking, where the first four seizures amounting to 117 doses were reported since 2001.
Honduras reported a record seizure in 2008 ofpharmaceuticalpreparations containing pseudoephedrine, amounting to 2 million tablets originating in Bangladesh. Costa Rica seized a large number of pharmaceutical preparations in the formof tablets containing acetaminophen with oxycodone or hydrocodone or
codeine,whichwere purportedly intended for sale over the Internet.
Report on North America
Drug-related violence remained high inMexico-the death toll doubled between 2007 and 2008. While measures taken by the Government, including the deployment of military troops, have resulted in the disruption of drug trafficking operations throughout North America, organized criminal groups have expanded their control over drug trafficking operations over the continent. Mexican drug cartels have expanded their control to cover the entire supply chain for illicit drugs, from shipment from South America to distribution in the United States. Violent gangs affiliated with Asian and Mexican drug cartels are largely in control of illicit drug distribution at the street level in the United States and are increasing their hold on distribution at the wholesale level.
Illicit cultivation of cannabis appears to be rising in the United States and may end up exceeding the total quantity of cannabis coming in from abroad. In 2008, the total quantity of eradicated cannabis increased by 14 per cent (7,562,300 outdoor and 451,000 indoor grown plants eradicated). Mexican drug cartels have expanded cannabis cultivation on public land in the United States, whereas Asian criminal organizations based in Canada have set up indoor cultivations.
The potency of cannabis seized in the United States continues to increase and in 2008 reached an average tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of 10 per cent and more.
In the United States, the overall declining trend in drug abuse continued. An estimated 35.5 million persons, or 14.2 per cent of the population, aged 12 and older had used illicit drugs in 2008. The decline in the abuse of drugs among youth aged 13-18 is an encouraging sign. The abuse of cannabis dropped by 29 per cent in the period 1997-2008, cocaine by 36 per cent, methamphetamine by 68 per cent and MDMA ("ecstasy") by 52 per cent. Likewise in Canada, the abuse of drugs, in particular cannabis, is declining. At the same time, Mexico is facing increasing abuse of cocaine and other drugs. The widespread abuse of pharmaceuticals containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances is an increasing problem in the region.
Report on South America
In 2008, potential cocaine manufacture increased in Peru to 302 tons and in Bolivia to 113 tons, accounting for 36 and 13 per cent respectively of potential global manufacture. In spite of these increases, the total potentialmanufacture of the region decreased from 994 tons in 2007 to 845 tons in 2008 (15 per cent lower) and constitutes the lowest output since 2003.
The overall decrease is attributed to the significant decrease of coca bush cultivation in Colombia, which accounts for 48.3 per cent of the area cultivated for the plant and experienced a decrease of manufacturing of 28 per cent. The total area of coca cultivation in South America decreased by 8 per cent to 167,000 ha in 2008. However, the area under illicit cultivation increased in Peru and Bolivia. In Bolivia the total area under illicit coca bush cultivation doubled between 2000 and 2008.
In Peru the area of illicit coca cultivation has increased since 1999 by 45 per cent. Cocaine seizures are on the rise compared to 2007 in all three main countries producing coca leaf (Bolivia: 45 per cent to 21.6 tons; Peru doubled to 16.8 tons; Colombia: 57 per cent to 198.4 tons) as well as in Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador. Seizures remained stable or decreased in Chile, Paraguay and Venezuela.
Though a number of Governments strengthened national measures to control ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, the increasing trend of diverting precursors to manufacture amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) continued as well as the smuggling of ephedrines into Mexico. Moreover, the illicit manufacture of synthetic drugs has emerged in the region.
In 2008, cannabis herb seizures increased in Bolivia (with 1,113 tons the seizures were more than two and a half times higher when compared to 2007), Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru. Seizures decreased in Brazil and Venezuela.
As a spill-over effect of drug trafficking, the abuse of illicit drugs is on the rise in some countries and the demand for treatment increased significantly in recent years. According to UNODC, almost 1 million people are treated annually for the abuse of illicit drugs. While in the region the need for a balanced approach to reduce illicit drug supply and tackle illicit drug problems is widely recognized, demand reduction activities, including education, prevention and rehabilitation remain underdeveloped in some countries.
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Picture: Guatemalan Anti Drug Forces