Drug trafficking in Central America is now a greater threat to the region than ever before, according to a report by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA).
The report indicates that government crackdowns on drug trafficking in Colombia and Mexico have resulted in the emergence of Central America as a key drug route. According to the report, 84 percent of cocaine that reaches the U.S. now passes through Central America.
The report also points to the relatively recent emergence of Central America a key producer of narcotics. This was evidenced with the recent discovery of a cocaine-processing lab in Honduras, of the type typically found in Colombia and other traditional drug producing nations. Honduran officials have previously reported that Mexican drug traffickers are expanding their activities in the country and in Central America as a whole.
The increasing levels of violence in Central American nations, particularly Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, is due in large part to the region’s transformation into “the new frontier for dangerous Mexican cartels,” according to the report.
The COHA analysis calls for Central American nations to develop coordinated efforts and joint security measures, with a focus on community development, to tackle this growing problem. With rife corruption and deep institutional weakness in many Central American countries, this will be a difficult task.
The report places great emphasis on the need for the United States to recognize its responsibilities and the fact that its war on drugs is “destructive.” The COHA argues that the U.S. must enact policies aimed at reducing domestic demand for cocaine.
A series of recent reports by news network Al Jazeera detailed the impact of drug trafficking and gangs on Central America.