Latin American illicit drug business


Latin American drug cartels have shown themselves to be powerful, resilient, and flexible organisations which for decades have been major players supplying the US and international markets with illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin. They have adapted as needed to changing patterns of drug consumption and law enforcement. The ‘war against drugs’ proclaimed in 1971 by US President Richard Nixon (1969-1974), which promised hard line measures to eradicate production, distribution, and consumption of illicit substances, is now over half a century old and has been deemed by many to have been an abject failure, reducing neither drug consumption nor cartel violence. Arguably, no new, comprehensive, and credible strategy has yet emerged to fill the vacuum. As a result, governments today lack a clear road map to contain the spread of addiction and cartel violence. On a country-by-country basis some policies focusing on public health and harm reduction have made modest progress, but there has also been regression.

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