Cocaine and Geopolitics

Some info from the World Drug Report

Here is some information cocaine usage globally, as well as information on smuggling routes to go along with my post from this morning.

Here is map that shows usage globally from the 2012 World Drug Report:




And here are some maps showing the flow of cocaine from the 2011 World Drug Report:



From the same source, here is the 2009 flow:



Mexico’s involvement in the cocaine trade, a major component of drug war profits, is pure geopolitics:  the country is between the source and the market (although it is a source, albeit not the only sources, of heroin, marijuana, and manufactured substances such as crystal meth and ecstasy).

It is worth pointing out that the flow of cocaine in the 1980s was mostly through the Caribbean into Florida.  While those routes persist, crack downs on that route led to a shift to the Central America/Mexican route (and to the development of the current Mexican cartels.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Latin America, US Politics, World Politics, , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Mike says:

    Instead of downsizing the military, assign them the role of protecting our borders. Declare a exclusionary zone and deploy mechinized infantry and drones with guided munitions from Brownsville to San Diego. Tell Mexico that anything under, on, or over the zone will face elimination.

    Two issues, illegal immigration and drugs, would be taken care of.

  2. KariQ says:

    We will win the war on drugs if this time we get really, really tough? If only we really, really use the military and make the war a real shooting war, this time it will work for sure! And if it doesn’t, we can always escalate further, start using tactical nukes. We’ve got them, why not use them!


    Face it, the war on drugs is lost. As long as there is demand, supply will find a way in. If it can’t get in through Mexico, they can always go through Canada. Willing to do the same thing on that border? Time to try a different direction.

  3. @Mike:

    First, militarizing a 2000 mile border in the way you suggest would be a massive undertaking.

    Second, you seem not to understand that there are enormous numbers of legitimate crossing daily. For trade, for people who live on one side of the border and work on the other, to visit families, for tourism, etc. You cannot make the border area one massive No Man’s Land to stop drugs from crossing it. Have you driven, for example, through El Paso? How are you going to militarize that border without having to relocate parts of the city?

    Three, even if you did, the profit motive are so huge that a new transit method would emerge. Part of my point about the geopolitics of Mexico is that Mexico wasn’t always the main route for cocaine: that happened after we curtails the Caribbean route. Squeeze the balloon in one place and air just goes somewhere else.

  4. Spartacus says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I don’t mean to hijack this thread, but I know you have a keen interest in health care policy and I wanted to know if you plan to post anything on the recent Oregon Medicaid study?

  5. bill says:

    @Mike: i dunno, prohibition just doesn’t work. people with money and a desire for something will usually get it. how they deal with their conscience for the criminals they support is beyond me.

  6. @Spartacus: I have been extremely busy to the point that I honestly do not know what I will be blogging about or when (and I fear that that is going to continue to be the case for a while).

  7. Spartacus says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Ok – thanks.