Weekly InSight: Facebook Live on Coca Boom, Corruption and Cartels

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In our March 16 Facebook Live videocast, InSight Crime Senior Investigators Deborah Bonello and Héctor Silva Ávalos, and Senior Editor Mike LaSusa discussed some of the biggest stories of the week, which included the regional effects of the Colombia coca boom and the potential new leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel.

Colombia’s coca boom and its regional implications was one of the main themes featured — more coca is being grown there since records began, and the yield per hectare has tripled. The demobilization of the FARC has been tipped by Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos as a turning point in the country’s fight against drug trafficking, but as LaSusa pointed out, with the spike in coca growth combined with the fact that cocaine consumption is growing in key regions around the world means it unlikely that this trade will do anything but expand and further fuel the profits of criminal groups.

The Central American cocaine corridor has already been revitalized, as Silva Ávalos reported, and an increase in the flow of cocaine toward the United States will foment that and prolong the corruption of states and their role in drug trafficking operations in years to come.

The knowledge and acquiescence of states in organized crime is nothing new, says Silva Ávalos — stories this week on allegations against a former Honduras president and family members of former Honduras presidents for their role in drug trafficking were some of the most read. El Salvador, Guatemala and Venezuela are just some of the other nations in the region with high-level government officials implicated in corruption and/or drug trafficking, and higher flows of cocaine through this part of the world promises this trend will continue.

All participants in this week’s Facebook Live agreed that discussion in the Mexican media in recent days about the successor to Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán as the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel ignored a key fact: that the era of monolithic, all-powerful cartels in Mexico is over. The Sinaloa organization now works more like a federation than a corporation, so one “jefe” is unlikely to be able to impose his power and will across its entire operations.

Watch the Facebook Live broadcast to hear the full conversation:

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