The Ebbs and Flows of the International Drug Trade

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Increased demand in Europe has re-routed the cocaine trade through West Africa instead of the Americas.
"People snorting coke in Europe are killing the pristine forests of the Andean countries and corrupting governments in West Africa," UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said.

The number of cocaine users in Europe has doubled in the last decade and the market is now worth $34 billion, almost as much as that in North America, the world's biggest consumer of the drug.

Europe's around 4 million cocaine users consumed about one quarter of global production in 2008.
Extraditing drug criminals from Colombia to the United States is weakening the Colombian legal system. 

But extradition is not universally good -- it is best used only when a criminal has fled to a place of relative impunity or the state itself is incapable of prosecuting the crimes. In Colombia, however, this is not the case. The country's justice system is now hailed as one of the region's best, so strong that its investigators and prosecutors tour throughout Latin America training their counterparts. A recent wave of convictions against a handful of military and congressional officials for egregious human rights violations is proof that, backed by political will, the system is fully capable of reaching sound convictions. Extraditions, however, achieve the opposite: They discredit the courts, with a chilling effect on the local administration of justice.
The paramilitary extraditions are a case in point. In 2003, the Uribe government promised to suspend extraditions so that demobilized paramilitaries could proceed through a special criminal process, known as Justice and Peace. In exchange for slap-on-the-wrist sentences, paramilitary forces were asked to confess their crimes and reveal information about criminal networks. Although not without flaws, the demobilizations saw a number of paramilitaries confess to atrocities, which led to the exhumation of disappeared persons and provided leads for criminal cases against top intelligence and military leaders and dozens of nationally elected officials. Things were moving forward -- until the May 2008 extraditions of the top paramilitary bosses brought the confessions to a standstill.
Moscow blames NATO for not preventing the flow of Afghan heroin into Russia.

"Further assistance to the coalition must be predicated upon a more active position in the fight against drug production in Afghanistan," Russia's envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, told the delegates, suggesting that NATO's vital supply route through Russia could be cut if the destruction of poppy fields didn't resume.
In its way, Russia is making an important point. Between 2005 and 2009, Afghanistan's yearly opium output jumped from 4,000 to 7,000 tons, and it now accounts for more than 90% of global supply, according to the United Nations. Russian state statistics say that opiates such as heroin and morphine kill around 30,000 Russians every year, three times more than the total number of Soviets killed during their 10-year war in Afghanistan in the 1980s. And the U.N. also says that the $65 billion earned every year from the sale of opiates partly goes to finance terrorists around the world, including the Taliban militants that the U.S. is fighting in Afghanistan.

And drug violence and sheer brutality in Mexico show no signs of slowing down.
And while the cartels are known for using especially brutal tactics against civilians, the Mexican military has also been accused of scores of human rights abuses including rape, torture and extrajudicial killings. Many units are also believed to be working with the cartels. On Monday, Calderon issued a 5,000 word essay to defend his handling of the war, in which he wrote: "It's worth the effort to continue on with this fight. It's worthwhile in order to build a free and safe country." He added that "we will win."


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