Central America Drug Seizures Up 30% in 2012: US

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The US military claims drug seizures in Central America have increased 30 percent in the last year as a result of multinational security effort “Operation Martillo,” but this rise in interceptions may not constitute a serious blow to the drug trade.

According to General Douglas Fraser, head of the US military’s Southern Command, the amount of drugs seized so far this year is 30 percent higher than in the same period last year. As Animal Politico reported, the general made the announcement at a presentation at the University of Miami, attributing the rise to “Operation Martillo.”

The operation, which was launched in January, is a coordinated effort of the US Navy, Coast Guard, and security forces from several Latin American and European nations to increase maritime patrols around Central America.

InSight Crime Analysis

The offensive’s success at intercepting drug shipments in Central America does not necessarily indicate an overall decrease of drugs on the market. As analyst Alejandro Hope recently pointed out, increased drug seizures can point to an increase in the amount of drugs trafficked.

Moreover, Operation Martillo appears to have merely pushed cocaine trafficking westward. A map released by Southcom shows that from January 15 to May 28, cocaine trafficking decreased in much of Central America, but went up 55 percent along Colombia’s Pacific coast, suggesting that efforts have simply diverted trafficking to that region.

Central America is a key transit point for drug traffickers. According a State Department report released in March, an estimated 95 percent of cocaine traveling from South America to the US goes through the Mexico and Central America corridor. Of that amount, around 80 percent makes a stop in a Central American country.

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