Drug Trafficking and National Security

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Recent evidence indicates that drug trafficking is becoming more serious as a threat to national security. It is urgent to redouble our efforts to face it. Our future as a country is at stake.  

On December 7, the Peruvian Navy captured a submarine carrying approximately two tons of cocaine, whose value in the destination market would reach 100 million dollars. The boat was seized 178 nautical miles (330 kilometers) from the city of Talara. Never before had a narcosubmarine been sighted within Peru’s jurisdiction , but its use has become frequent in international drug trafficking operations. Barely two weeks earlier, a similar ship carrying three tons of drugs – also from Colombia – was captured off the coast of Spain .

Add to this the greatest confiscation of cocaine in the history of the United States: last June, the customs authorities of that country seized 20 tons of cocaine aboard the merchant ship MSC Gayane, from Chile and in transit to Europe. According to the ongoing investigations, the drug was taken on board at sea, within the Peruvian maritime space, from smaller vessels, which suggests that cocaine was produced in our country.

And, let’s not fail to note that, according to Brazilian authorities, seizures of cocaine in ports in that country have increased 50% in the first ten months of 2019, compared to the previous year.

The facts described above confirm that there is a change in the operational mode of drug trafficking from South America, now prioritizing its transportation by sea, as this allows the illicit export of larger volumes of drugs. It is estimated that about one third of cocaine from South America is illegally transported by merchant ships.

Well, it is necessary to underline that the implications of drug trafficking exceed criminal boundaries, since it constitutes a serious threat to national security. This is very well known, given the magnitude of its illegal operations, its perverse effects of erosion of institutionality, its corrupt proclivity, its appetite for violence, its factual dominance over portions of the national territory, its propensity to catalyze various other criminal activities and the spread of informality, its growing threat to citizen security, and so on.

To try to understand the implications of drug trafficking in its real dimension it is useful to appeal to the characterization of Narcopoder , a visionary vision coined by political scientist Manuel Bernales Alvarado four decades ago: drug trafficking, in order to survive, requires forging parallel, competitive and competitive power structures opposite to those of the State. So the choice is clear: if we want to forge a country guided by the paradigms of democracy, the rule of law and the market economy, we have to eradicate drug trafficking. We are deceiving ourselves if we believe that there is any viable formula of coexistence between our State and the Narcopower .   

In light of recent evidence, the characterization of drug trafficking as a severe threat to national security has become even more serious. The narcosubmarinesthey violate the territorial sovereignty of Peru not only to export cocaine, but also serve as a vehicle to massively smuggle weapons into our country, and for the illegal entry of dangerous criminals. The capture of various fundamental instances of the State for interests linked to drug trafficking has acquired a dimension that endangers the sustainability of our democratic institutions, as we can all witness Peruvians. In economic terms, drug trafficking has harmful effects, such as the massive entry of illegal money, and the depression of the exchange rate that reduces the competitiveness of legal exports. Socially and politically, drug trafficking promotes violence and conflict, and to survive requires eroding the effectiveness of State action.

It is time, then, to rethink the gravitation of drug trafficking as a threat to National Security, to assign it a capital priority. It was incomprehensible as early as 2006, when the first and only White Paper of the National Defense was published , the little significance assigned in that document to drug trafficking. Since then, the situation has only worsened, as evidenced by the large increase in the cultivated area of ​​coca and in the estimated volumes of cocaine production, and the increasing prominence that drug trafficking interests have acquired in various spheres of national life.

The responses from the State to the scourge of drug trafficking remain, always, ineffective and insufficient. Its conceptualization as a threat to National Security avoids – as we have been maintaining – the seriousness of this risk, which is also reflected in the organizational and operational profile of the Armed Forces. It is urgent to reinforce their work in the fight against drug trafficking by recognizing it as the current greatest threat to National Security; and, on that basis, provide our military institutions with greater resources, and better management tools to assess the effectiveness of their actions in the face of this major threat.

More generally, the State lacks a multidimensional strategy in this area. The National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs (DEVIDA), is an organism with a poor institutional design, which makes it incapable of leading the state action against drug trafficking; and its actions do not transcend the symbolic and bureaucratic. State action in the largest coca production area, in the valley formed by the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro (VRAEM) rivers, is costly, but inefficient and not very transparent. What are the indicators of progress in the fight to reduce the incidence of drug trafficking there?

The effectiveness of international cooperation programs in combating drug trafficking is equally unfriendly. A significant portion of these programs continue to operate as a kind of boomerang, where the resources of the contributing country return under the modality of contracts with their national consulting firms, without reaching sustainable impacts where they are formally destined. In addition, these programs are not preceded by a coherent strategic vision. From the Peruvian perspective – since we are the ones who put sweat, blood and environmental damage within the drug trafficking production chain – it is worth asking why it is that the amounts of confiscation of capital from drug trafficking are so ridiculous in consumer countries, which is where they end up deposited a good part of those illicitly obtained monies. And why don’t the consuming countries agree to automatically invest all the money from the drugs they seize, for the benefit of the producing countries so that they can face their tasks to combat this scourge better?   

Drug Trafficking and National Security

The Peruvian Navy captured in December a submersible that loaded approximately two tons of cocaine | Source: Navy


At the social level, in addition, there is a generalized attitude of tolerance, but of indifference, against the phenomenon of drug trafficking. And tens of thousands of compatriots depend for their subsistence on this illegal activity.

The drug market liberalization approach could be effective in the context of consuming countries, but it would be devastating for a producing country like Peru, as it would induce the reconversion of drug trafficking into other criminal activities. Already in our country, it has a significant presence in illegal mining and tree felling operations.

In the light of the results achieved during the last half century in the fight against drug trafficking, it is not an exaggeration to maintain that this constitutes an already lost cause, but that is why we should not raise flags. We cannot give the future of the new generations to an activity whose essence is criminal, corrupting and violent; and that undermines democratic institutions as a strategy for their own subsistence. We have to learn from our mistakes to face this patriotic cause more effectively. The option remains clear and does not support transactions: Narcopower or democracy.


Source: Rpp Noticias