Local drug sales are a rising problem in LatAm

Statistics released on drug sales investigations and drug seizures in Argentina and Mexico suggest both countries are experiencing a boom in microtrafficking -- a side effect of transnational drug trafficking and a creator of violence. 

In Buenos Aires, legal cases opened for drug sales and possession with intent to sell rose from 14,000 in 2006 to 29,000 in 2013, according to Supreme Court of Justice figures reported by La Nacion. Around 2,200 new cases have been opened thus far in 2014.

Over the course of the year, 4.2 tons of marijuana and cocaine intended for local distribution were seized in the region, according to the provincial Interior Ministry. Additionally, 2,372 doses of LSD, 15,671 ecstasy pills and 70,022 doses of cocaine paste, known locally as "paco," were seized between January and August 2013.

Federal Police drug seizures in Mexico, meanwhile, nearly doubled in 2013 compared with the year before, reported Milenio. National police seized nearly 100 tons -- calculated as 61 million doses -- of narcotics including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines, compared to about 50.5 tons (31 million doses) in 2012. The vast majority of these seizures -- 97.6 tons or 48 million doses -- were marijuana.

InSight Crime Analysis

There are various signs Argentina's domestic drug market is growing as the presence of transnational organized crime has consolidated in the country. This fits with a pattern seen around Latin America, where transnational trafficking fuels domestic consumption, often because traffickers pay local associates in product.

In Buenos Aires, evidence of the growth of microtrafficking has been seen with the discovery of ecstasy laboratories and rising synthetic drug seizures. In other major cities, such as Rosario in the northeast Santa Fe province, a growth in local sales has led to violent struggles between increasingly sophisticated criminal gangs.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Microtrafficking

In Mexico, the domestic market has become ever more important to criminal groups in recent years, and a source of violent turf disputes. This may help explain a recent surge in violence in the country's biggest consumption market, Mexico City, which has aestimated 100,000 young drug users and has seen local drug sales grow an estimated 450 percent between 2002 and 2011. So far in 2014, there have been 87 deaths linked to organized crime -- 31 more than over the same period last year, reported Proceso.

Concern over the impact of microtrafficking in Mexico City has been mounting since the kidnapping and subsequent murder of 12 youths in the district of Tepito last year, which was believed to be linked to microtrafficking networks connected to cartels.