Mexico’s faltering seizures of cocaine

March 6, 2014 

The cocaine keeps flowing through Mexico, but Mexican law enforcement can’t seem to intercept much of it at least not like Central America.

The State Department’s annual report summing up counternarcotics efforts of countries around the world came out this week, and it is worthwhile to compare seizures of cocaine as it travels up from the Andes through Central America and Mexico toward the United States.

Let’s take a look by country:

Panama seized 41 metric tons of cocaine last year, up from 34 metric tons a year earlier. Panama is always the champ due to its proximity to the Andean countries where coca is grown and cocaine produced.

Costa Rica seized 19.6 metric tons last year, up from 14.7 metric tons a year earlier.

Nicaragua captured 3 metric tons, and Honduras seized 1.7 metric tons. El Salvador took a little more than half a ton while Guatemala seized 3.9 metric tons on land and at sea.

Then there’s Mexico, a much larger country where drug shipments are often re-assorted and stored before getting smuggled across the border. You’d think there’d be more opportunity to seize it here but you’d be mistaken. U.S. estimates say only 2 percent of the narcotics smuggled through Mexico are intercepted.

Mexico seized 3.7 metric tons of cocaine through July 2013, which itself was a 77 percent hike over the same period a year earlier, said the report, which the State Department titles International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.

“...(C)orruption continues to impede Mexican counternarcotics efforts,” the report says.

“Available supply reduction data indicate that interdiction remains a major challenge for Mexico. Only a small portion of the cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and heroin originating in or transiting Mexico is interdicted inside the country,” the report adds.

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