ColombiaOne.comColombia newsIs Mexico Set to Overtake Colombia in Cocaine Production?

Is Mexico Set to Overtake Colombia in Cocaine Production?

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Colombia Cocaine
In the Annual National Drug Assessment report, the DEA has suggested that Mexican Cartels might take over Colombian Cocaine Production. Credit : Fuerzas Militares de Colombia

According to the DEA’s national drug assessment, Colombia is the source of at least 97% of all cocaine consumed in the United States. Despite this fact, The DEA also claims that the production pattern is on the verge of changing. 

In the report, the DEA claims that Mexican cartels are experimenting with crops of coca leaf in Mexico. The agency claims that if the cartels were to be successful they could take over the “Colombian” business. 

 In the chapter regarding drug trafficking trends in the report, the DEA suggests that Mexican cartels, especially the Jalisco Cartel, are looking to cultivate coca and produce their own cocaine from start to finish.

If successful, this would give them much larger profits than having to buy cocaine from South American traffickers. In consultation with Colombian cocaine producers, Mexican cartels have cultivated coca and produced cocaine in Mexico, but on a very small scale and with much lower purity.

What does the DEA forensic analysis suggest?

Forensic analysis from the DEA suggests that at the moment, coca leaves of Mexican origin produce less potential cocaine than cocaine leaves cultivated in South America. The same analysis allowed the DEA to conclude that in 2022, 97% of cocaine production was Colombian, while the remaining  3% was from Bolivia and Peru. 

According to their information, cocaine purity in Colombia remains very high, at a minimum 84%. However, another tendency remains worrying for the agency. The DEA is closely monitoring the number of deaths involving cocaine consumption. 

The DEA claims that deaths have constantly increased since 2015, with more than 15,000 deaths in the first six months of 2023. Most of these deaths have occurred due to a mix of cocaine and fentanyl. 

The report claims that cocaine-related deaths have increased every year since 2015, many of them driven by fentanyl poisoning of cocaine users who did not know that the cocaine was mixed with fentanyl. Cocaine users are at a higher risk of drug poisoning from the accidental ingestion of fentanyl because they do not have the tolerance of a regular opioid user.

Deaths related to cocaine abuse in the United States have become a very significant issue. At least two-thirds of deaths related to cocaine resulted from fatal doses of opioids. 

Cocaine consumption has become a national security issue. The DEA considers that drug trafficking has been a persistent threat to the United States for 40 years. In this context, the most significant threat faced by the United States is the Sinaola and Jalisco cartels. The key issue with the two illegal organizations is that they control both the markets and cocaine trafficking from South America to the United States.

How has the DEA strategy regarding cocaine distribution in Colombia changed?

The Escobar days in the 80s shifted the paradigm of how the DEA deals with drug trafficking. The main strategy focused on the escalation of efforts. This is comparable to how the DEA today deals with the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels. 

International cooperation also increased, given that the global war on drugs has been a main priority of the United States. This cooperation, at the time, came mainly with the search bloc in Colombia to fight cocaine production and distribution. 

The report points out that Mexican cartels obtain shipments of several tons of powdered cocaine and cocaine base from South American traffickers, then smuggle them through land routes or coastal waterways in Central America, or by sea to Caribbean islands such as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, before introducing them into the United States. 

How have drug consumption patterns shifted according to the report?

Additionally, in this report, the DEA highlights drug consumption patterns. Evidence presented in the report suggests that consumption patterns continue to move towards synthetic drugs. According to DEA director Anne Milgram, dealing with these drugs require a different approach.

Synthetic drugs include krokodil, fentanyl and synthetic cannabinoids. These substances are made in labs and are exponentially more dangerous than plant-based drugs.

Anne Milgram stated, “The drug poisoning crisis remains a public safety, public health, and national security problem that requires a new approach. The shift from plant-based drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, to chemically sourced synthetic drugs, such as fentanyl and methamphetamine, has resulted in the most dangerous and deadly drug crisis the United States has ever faced.”

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