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Colombian Drug Trafficking (Trade) - Supply and Demand
Colombia has been very successful trafficking drugs, primarily cocaine, into the United States despite numerous attempts to stop trafficking at United States’ borders. There are many reasons for Colombia’s success in drug trafficking. The main reason, and most overlooked reason, is demand. The real issue that needs to be addressed is why the citizens of the United States have such a demand for cocaine, heroine, and other drugs. Colombia, as well as other countries, will continue to supply the product that fulfills the demand for as long as the demand exists. Colombia’s characteristics such as geographic location and poor economy enhance Colombia’s ability as a prime drug supplier to the United States; however, these beneficial drug trafficking characteristics would be worthless without the demand.
Colombia’s geographic location makes it ‘well-positioned both to receive coca from Peru and Bolivia and to export the processed drug to the United States by air or by sea” (Abadinsky, 2003, p. 168). Colombia is also primarily jungle. Drug processing plants can easily be hidden by the jungles and illegal airstrips can be difficult to spot (Abadinsky, 2003). Colombia’s juxtaposition between many coca-rich countries and terrain merely facilitate drug operations, but these drug operations would not be successful without demand.
Colombia’s poor economy contributes to Colombia’s effectiveness at drug trafficking into the United States. When one of the biggest and most lucrative industries in the country is drug production and trafficking and little opportunity exists elsewhere for employment, it is easy to understand why Colombia is successful at drug trafficking. Drugs are Colombia’s main export. Drug trafficking is risky and dangerous, but it pays well, especially when little other opportunities exist. Colombian drug traffickers use innovative methods to smuggle drugs in the United States:
"They typically use “swallowers” to get the drug into the United States: poor Colombian women are recruited to swallow heroin packed into the cut-off fingers of surgical gloves. The $10,000 salary entails risks to life (the packets will disintegrate, causing a massive overdose if she does not arrive at her destination quickly enough) and liberty – being intercepted by customs officers using drug-sniffing dogs and body scanners." (Abadinsky, 2003, p. 177)
Without the demand for drugs by the United States, Colombian women would not have these risky profit making opportunities available to them.
Colombia has been successful trafficking drugs into the United States partly due to Colombia’s geographic location and Colombia’s economic situation, but Colombia’s success really can be attributed to the incredibly high demand for drugs by the United States. The overall approach of the United States on drug problems seems flawed. Without the demand for drugs, the supply would not matter. Rather than focus so much time, money, and effort trying to stop the supply of drugs from entering the United States, resources would be better spent addressing the reasons behind the demand. As a country, the United States attempts to displace responsibility on the drug-related problems within our country to the suppliers of the drugs. A little introspection would clearly show the problem is within our country and the responsibility is ours to address internally.
Reference: Abadinsky, H. (2003). Organized crime (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth Learning.