Narco Wars, Part 1 and 2

Originally published in March 2013

A two-part interview discussing ongoing efforts to combat illegal narcotics, published in February and March 2013.

The UN believes Peru has become the world’s largest coca leaf producer and rivals Colombia for cocaine production. Some argue that this is as a result of the narco-war in Colombia, which has pushed traffickers elsewhere. Colombia has in recent years been successful in combatting the insurgent and drug-related activities within the country. As a result, both its economic and security situations have improved considerably. An unintended consequence of this success was that drugs and organised crime often were not eliminated but pushed out of the country, in a so-called balloon effect. The problems mitigated in Colombia have since worsened in neighbouring countries, such as Peru. However, it is hard to blame solely Colombia for these effects. Peru has traditionally been a leading coca leaf producer as the cultivation, sale, and possession of unprocessed coca leaf remains legal in the country. In order to prosecute the illegal activity of processing it into cocaine, a number of regional powers, including Colombia and Peru, have increased coordination of border control efforts and the sharing of intelligence on drug-related activities with neighbouring countries; the US has also continued their support for counternarcotic efforts in the entire region. The problem remains a regional problem and is not confined to individual countries.