Soldiers in the FARC
The majority of the most powerful drugs in the world are illegal to make, distribute, and use. Because of this reason, most drug manufacturing and distribution has been taken over by criminal organizations. Sometimes, however, it’s not only criminal organizations who trade drugs but also rebel terrorist groups and even some governments! One of the most well-known narco-terror groups around the world is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (a.k.a. FARC). The FARC is located in Columbia and they use the production and distribution of drugs to fund their many illegal activities.
When there is demand for any product there is usually a person or group willing to supply that demand for profit. Drugs are relatively easy to make when you compare it to the great amount of money that can be made from drug trafficking. However, few are willing to take the risks because it’s dangerous, there can be competition, the government typically enforces its anti-drug laws and sometimes there is resistance from the local population. The FARC has avoided some of those road blocks by taking control of parts of Colombia to create areas to facilitate drug production and distribution.
According to this article on the Council on Foreign Relations’ web page, the FARC was founded in the 1965 as part of a left-wing movement of communist militants and rural militias that contested the right wing Colombian government. Since then, the FARC has become Columbia’s most powerful rebel group. The FARC had about 16,000 members in 2001 and it controlled about one third of Colombia before former president Andres Pastrana ended peace talks in early 2002 after a series of terrorist acts. Although they have lost influence recently, its estimated that the FARC still makes about $500 to $600 million annually from the drug trade alone. They also obtain money from other crimes such as kidnapping and extortion. The Council on Foreign Relations article also mentions that the FARC’s involvement varies from region to region and they can dictate terms for coca growth, harvest, and the production of cocaine.
The U.S. Justice Department estimated that the FARC supplies more than 50% of the world’s cocaine and up to 60% of all cocaine exported to the USA. This does not mean that the FARC exports most of its cocaine, but that they are the main producers and cultivators of coca while partnering with other criminal organizations to traffic the drug. The FARC has committed terrorist acts in Colombia for more than 50 years, has been responsible for thousands of deaths, kidnappings and bombings, all while funding their activities through the production of cocaine to fill the constant demand for drugs in the USA, the world’s largest consumer of illicit drugs.
Abusing and using drugs is not a victimless crime in which only the user suffers the consequences. The cultivation, production, distribution, and sale of drugs victimizes untold numbers of people and continues to fuel both criminal and terrorist organizations. Drug abuse and addiction causes far more damage than can ever be measured and only by breaking the cycle of abuse and addiction can someone truly stop creating more victims of the drug trade.