To what extent are FARC and paramilitary forces involved in the drug trade?
“'[The FARC] are involved in all aspects of the cocaine industry, from forcing farmers to grow coca… to international trafficking,’ Spokesman Bob Weiner said. ‘But I believe this has been the situation all along.’” –Juan Tamayo, “US Officials tie Colombian Guerillas to Drug Exports” from the Miami Herald.
“Several paramilitary groups also raise funds through extortion, or by protecting laboratory operations in northern and central Colombia. The Carlos Castaño organization, and possibly other paramilitary groups, appear to be directly involved in processing cocaine. At least one of these paramilitary groups appears to be involved in exporting cocaine from Colombia.” –William E. Ledwith, Chief of International Operations, Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Department of Justice before the House Government Reform Committee, Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources.
“Evidence shows FARC guerrillas supplied cocaine to the [Mexican] cartel in exchange for cash and possibly weapons. This development is another illustration of the FARC’s deep involvement in narcotics trafficking.” Statement by Richard Boucher, Spokesman, on connections between the FARC and Mexican drug cartels.
“The most recent DEA reporting indicates that some FARC units in southern Colombia are indeed directly involved in drug trafficking activities, such as controlling local cocaine base markets…. There remains, however, no information that any FARC or ELN units have established international transportation, wholesale distribution, or drug money laundering networks in the United States or Europe.”–William E. Ledwith, Chief of International Operations, Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Department of Justice before the House Government Reform Committee, Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources.
“From the drug traffic and the drug traffickers we ought to get 70 percent of our financing,” [Castaño] said. –Dick J. Reavis, “Paramilitary forces muscling their way to the forefront,” San Antonio Express News.
“Colombian defense experts have estimated that the two major insurgent groups (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN)) gain 50 percent or more of their revenues from their involvement in drug trafficking. Estimates vary widely on the amount of money that the FARC and ELN earn annually from the drug trade -from a low of $100 million to a high of $500 million.” Statement by General Barry McCaffrey before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
“The Henao Montoyas run the most powerful of the various intependent trafficking organizations that comprise the North Valle drug mafia. The major North Valle drug mafia organizations are poised to become among the most powerful drug trafficking groups in Colombia. The Henao Montoya organization has been closely linked to the paramilitary group run by Carlos Castaño, a major cocaine trafficker in his own right.” –DEA Congressional Testimony, James Milford, Deputy Administrator DEA before the House International Relations Committee Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.
“In Colombia, the melding of guerrilla movements… and international drug trafficking organizations has created an unprecedented threat to the rule of law, democratic institutions, and the very fabric of society.” –Statement by General Barry McCaffrey before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Full Statement.
“‘The drug traffic is a plague of capitalism,’ [the FARC] declared in an August statement. ‘We are going to publicly challenge American imperialism to pledge itself to legalizing drug consumption, so that it can seriously struggle for the elimination of the drug trade.'” –Dick J. Reavis, “FARC guerrillas are rebels without a clear cause,” from the San Antonio Express-News, 14 Jan 2001
“Army commander Gen. Jorge Mora told reporters on Friday that ‘with every day that passes, the difference between guerrillas and drugs traffickers is minimum, and the difference between paramilitaries and drugs traffickers is minimum.’” –Reuters, “Colombia Police say Hit Drug Trader Pockets.
“Colombia’s drug elimination plan has a high potential for success in the first phase because drug production is concentrated in the south and vulnerable to eradication.” –Barry McCaffrey, Remarks to the Atlantic Council of the United States. Full Statement
“Even if the significant areas of illicit crops under guerilla control in southern Colombia were eradicated, those same areas will be replaced in Northern Colombia, under paramilitary control. Approximately 40% of total coca production is already in those regions.” –Ricardo Vargas Meza, Drug Policy Expert, Accion Andina, Bogota, Colombia. From “Anti-Drug Policies in Colombia: 25 Years of Failure.” Available
“In the illicit drug industry, most of the value of those drugs (as much as 90 percent) is added after they enter the United States. That merely reflects the fact that the risk premium of selling drugs increases as the drugs approach the point of retail sale. Consequently, efforts to eradicate crops and interdiction of traffic — that is, efforts to reduce the supply of drugs — put only a small dent in the profit margins of traffickers.” — L. Jacobo Rodriquez, The Cato Institute: “Time to End the Drug War,” December , .