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Terrorism and Drugs Trafficking: U.S. Congressional Hearings on Counternarcotics Operations.


Americas Security News.- US Drug Enforcement Administration Seal

Americas Security News.- US Drug Enforcement Administration Seal

In an article published last Feb 10th, in Linkedin, Jeffrey Thomas -Homeland Security Research Analyst- is informing about the main points from the hearings of the  U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee -held last week- on the terrorist-drug trafficking nexus, and U.S. Counternarcotics Operations.

Afghanistan and the Opium Trade:
As outlined by William Brownfield (State Department) and James Carpa (DEA), Afghanistan produces more than 80 percent of the world’s illicit opium. In 2013, Afghan opium production increased markedly, reaching its highest level yet. The primary markets for Afghan opium are Europe, Russia, Iran, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and coastal Africa.

The Taliban and Narcotics Trafficking:
James Carpa (DEA) identified the Taliban’s opium-related activities: taxing poppy farmers, running processing labs, moving narcotics, taxing narcotics transported through Taliban-controlled territory, and providing security to poppy fields, labs, and opium bazaars. The UN estimates that narcotics-related activities provide $155 million annually to the Taliban. Ted Deutch (Ranking Member) said these funds account for almost half of the Taliban’s budget.

The FARC and Drug Trafficking:
According to Celina B. Realuyo 
(Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies), the FARC began providing security for the Cali, Medelline, and the Norte de Valle drug cartels in the 1990s. The defeat of these cartels by Columbian forces (with U.S. assistance) left a vacuum in the drug trafficking economy, which the FARC quickly filled. Columbia’s counter-insurgency campaign over the past decade (also backed by the U.S.) severely reduced the FARC’s capacity, but the organization still earns up to $600 million annually from cocaine trafficking.

The Shining Path and Drug Trafficking:
The Shining Path almost disappeared after the capture of its leader in 1992, but Celina B. Realuyo pointed out that the group has recently engineered a small-scale revival by entering Peru’s drug trade. Ted Poe (Subcommittee Chairman) stated that about 500 remaining Shining Path militants operate out of the Apurimac-Ene-Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM), the source of more than half of Peru’s cocaine production. Michael Shifter 
(Inter-American Dialogue) asserted that, while Shining Path militants in VRAEM still espouse a Maoist doctrine, their ideological underpinnings have all but disappeared as the group has turned increasingly to money-generating criminal activities.

Hezbollah Enters the Latin American Drug Trade:
Celine Realuyo explained that, beginning with a base of operation in Paraguay (in the largely lawless tri-border area connecting Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay), Hezbollah established illicit money laundering, counterfeiting, piracy, and drug trafficking enterprises. Douglas Farah 
(Center for Strategic and International Studies) said Hezbollah then developed ties with the FARC, trading arms for cocaine to traffic abroad.