Thursday, February 4, 2023
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the LAT: Cocaine trafficking keeps Ecuador anti-drug authorities busy.

The subtitle of the piece reads “Seizures set a record last year for the country, which is growing in importance as a hub for shipments to the U.S. and Europe.”

If I had a dollar for every time I had read about record seizures or some example of adaptation in cultivation or shipment in the cocaine industry, I would have a cartel-like fortune (well, maybe not, as they make tons of money, quite literally).

The basics:

International experts have estimated that as much as 200 tons, or one-third of the cocaine produced in Colombia, may be transiting through Ecuador, four times the estimated percentage a decade ago.

Combating the cartels has become more complicated since U.S. surveillance aircraft left the Manta air base in June after President Rafael Correa refused to renew a lease agreement, officials say. The shift of those flights to Colombia — as well as the departure of U.S. Coast Guard vessels from Ecuadorean waters — has lengthened response time to suspicious activity.

No doubt the loss of the Manta lease is part of the issue, although as the story notes, the Ecuadoran government is still actively pursuing anti-cocaine policies.

One suspects that that is also as much about the focus that has been placed on other shipping routes by the US and its allies.   If there is any certainty in the drug war it is that as the balloon is squeezed in one place, it bulges out in another.

The most salient piece of information in the piece to help explain the overall behavior is as follows:

Russia, where a kilo of cocaine sells for $100,000 wholesale, or four times the U.S. price, is now the world’s hottest market for the drug, police say.

1 kilogram is 2.2 pounds.

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