This comes in spite of the country’s crackdown on drugs throughout the Americas, with the world’s largest cocaine seizures reported in Colombia (200 tons) and the U.S. (94 tons).
A U.N. report last year published these detailed maps and analysis of cocaine flow to the U.S., which we’ve highlighted below.
The Andean Region
Much of the coke in the U.S. is made in South America’s Andean region, particularly Colombia, before travelling up through Latin America. Below, you can see what a central part this region plays in American and global coke transport.
Panama is the first stop after Columbia. Because the jungle in the Darien Strip is so dense, traffickers often turn to sea routes. In 2011, about 35 tons were seized in Panama.
The next stop is Costa Rica. Cocaine seizures there almost doubled between 2006 and 2010 compared to 2000 to 2005. The drug travels by sea, air, land, with a considerable amount (about 300 kg) seized along the Pan-American Highway.
While Nicaragua seizes large amounts of cocaine, the country is mostly a refueling stop on the way north. Because road travel is impractical, small airstrips see most of the traffic. These factors have reduced the impact of drug flow on the country — crime hardly plays a role in political life and murder rates, while elevated, remain consistent.
Drug trafficking in El Salvador is somewhat puzzling. Because the country lacks an Atlantic coast, authorities in the country claim they see little cocaine transportation. El Savour is also the most densely populated country in South America, decreasing chances for secret airstrips and ports. Costa Rica and Honduras border the country, however, leading some to believe El Salvador experiences more cocaine flow than reported. Violence also crops up along supposed transport routes.
Honduras represent the single most popular point of cocaine headed northward. Roughly 65 of the 80 tons of cocaine transported by air toward the U.S. lands in Honduras, representing 15% of the U.S.-bound cocaine flow, as reported by the U.S. government. The brevity of the water route from Colombia to Honduras allows for the use of submarine in coke transition, too. From 2011 to 2012, at least four submarines were detected nearby, and seizures from only two amount to about 14 tons of cocaine.
Guatemala is the last stop before Mexico. Downward pressure from Mexican authorities has virtually stopped direct shipments to Mexico, thus forcing as much as 90% of cocaine to bottleneck back into the country for further planning. The massive transport increase into Honduras has also upped the importance of reigning crime families such as the Mendozas and Lorenzanas.
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