Mexico Cocaine Seizures Halved Under Calderon: Congress

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A decline in cocaine seizures since 2006 is evidence of Mexico’s decreased importance as a transit country for drug shipments, as more cocaine is now being moved through Central America, according to a report by the country’s Congress.

The Chamber of Deputies briefing (available for download below) notes that cocaine seizures declined during President Felipe Calderon’s six-year term, with 21.3 tons confiscated in 2006, compared with the 11.3 tons seized in 2011, a year before Calderon left office.

Marijuana seizures, in contrast, did not decline significantly under Calderon, with 1,902 tons reported seized in 2006, and 1,799 tons seized in 2011. The numbers are based on records kept by the presidency.

The report goes on to assert that Mexico’s declining cocaine seizures are partly down due to more drug shipments being moved through Central American nations like El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Drug seizures in Central America are currently 13 times higher than those registered in Mexico, the report states, although it does not provide a source for the statistic.

The report, which is dated October 2012 but appears to have been released recently, is an assessment of the accomplishments of Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (PGR) under Calderon.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Chamber of Deputies briefing is correct to point out that the amount of cocaine trafficked through Central America has increased significantly since 2006. The US State Department reports that Honduras seized around 22 tons of cocaine in 2012 compared to 8.1 tons in 2006, an increase of around 170 per cent. El Salvador and Guatemala saw even greater increases in cocaine seizures during this time period, according to US figures. Cocaine seizures in El Salvador grew 227 per cent between 2006 and 2012, while Guatemala saw an increase of over 1,000 percent. There has also been evidence of an increase of trafficking through the Caribbean.

However, it is unclear whether the significantly higher amounts of cocaine moved through Central America would fully explain the decline in seizures in Mexico. It is possible that the Mexican authorities are simply seizing a lower percentage of the cocaine being moved through the country.

Another factor in declining seizures could be that traffickers are changing their Mexican smuggling routes from maritime to overland.

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