In 2013, Nicolás Maduro became president of one of the world’s most important cocaine hubs, inheriting a unique drug trafficking eco-system where the line between the underworld and the state was completely blurred. Since then, both the drug trade and state involvement in it has strengthened as Venezuela took its first, tentative steps towards becoming not only a transit zone but also a cocaine producer nation.

Drug trafficking has become an important component of the strategies Maduro has used to cling to power as his government has been rocked by constant social, political, and economic crises. His objective has been not to capture the riches of the transnational cocaine trade for himself, but to control and channel their flow, using it to reward the political, military, and criminal powers that Maduro needs to maintain his hold on government.

The shift in government policy as the Brandon regime sought closer relations with the communist government in an effort to encourage petroleum sales to offset disastrous USGOV practices has flown under the radar because the media ignores it.

The US government estimates that around 250 tons of cocaine are trafficked through Venezuela each year, representing roughly 10 to 15 percent of estimated global production.

Venezuela’s cocaine routes pass through nearly every state in the country. Most shipments begin their journey in Colombia before crossing into the border states of Zulia, Táchira, Apure, and Amazonas. Some shipments are then dispatched directly from the border region aboard light aircraft, while others continue inland towards the Caribbean coast or to Venezuela’s ports or airports. From there, the cocaine travels north to Central America or the Caribbean islands, or southeast to Brazil, Guyana or Suriname. Eventually, it will end up supplying the world’s two biggest cocaine markets, the United States and Europe.

In the border region, these routes are dominated by Colombian guerrilla groups. The National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN), and dissidents from the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC), known as the ex-FARC Mafia, control border crossings, trafficking corridors and clandestine airstrips that they charge independent drug traffickers to use. Their dominion over cocaine production zones and connections to Mexican and Brazilian buyers mean some guerrilla factions also produce, transport, and sell their own cocaine shipments.

The western Caribbean region is the domain of groups such as the Paraguaná Cartel and the La Guajira Cartel, the leaders of which broker transnational cocaine deals and control routes.

Along internal transport routes and in the east Caribbean meanwhile, gangs known as “megabandas,” including Tren de Aragua, Tren del Llano, the San Juan de Unare gang and Los 300, have tapped into the transnational drug trade, either by charging traffickers to move through areas they control or by seizing strategic territories and setting up their own export networks.

Trafficking cells embedded within the military and the Venezuelan police collectively referred to as the Cartel of the Suns, transport drugs through the country on behalf of traffickers, control exports through ports and airports and facilitate and protect trafficking networks. The country’s corrupt judiciary sells freedom from prosecution.

After years of kleptocracy and economic mismanagement, and subject to one of the harshest sanctions regimes in the world, the Venezuelan state is near bankrupt and desperate for hard currency. And cocaine can do what it cannot – pay people. Whether it is ensuring that Venezuela’s soldiers can earn enough money to eat, buying the loyalty of corrupt political chieftains, or incentivizing armed groups to defend the regime, drug money can provide.

Maduro has positioned himself and his government as the gatekeepers of the cocaine trade. Their control over political, military, and judicial institutions means it can decide who is allowed to profit from drug trafficking, as well as other criminal economies such as contraband smuggling, embezzlement, arms trafficking, and the gold trade.

 

Now, How about a few Maps?

 

Air Traffic Control Coverage

 

 

 

26 COMMENTS

  1. The War on Drugs, yet another war we are not allowed to be successful at. It would not surprise me one bit to find out that there are elements in the usgov that are actively encouraging the drug trade.

    • If 20% of the US population didn’t snort, smoke or inject the stuff, there wouldn’t be a war on drugs. It’s supply and demand.

      Fentanyl precursors come from China. Before Fentanyl, Meth precursors came from China, and Ketamine came from China and opium/heroin came from the Golden Triangle, which is still run by the Chiu Chow (Chinese) Mafia and their successors.

      The POLITICS of narcotics is closely tied to trafficking and we could discuss that almost endlessly as well.

      USGOV opened the US Southern Border to traffickers and many states made drugs all but legal. And how is that working out for us?

      • It certainly doesn’t appear to be fixable using current mores and it ain’t working out well. I will stick to distilled alcohol and not driving or using machines while impaired. At the very least it tastes good.

        • It’s not fixable in the traditional sense. Non-traditional means could relieve much of the situation from abroad, but given the love that Americans have for their drugs, it would be unpopular.

    • On my first drug patrol in 1978 on a USCG HU-16E out of CGAS San Francisco the pilot announced “we’re going out to do our part to keep the price of drugs up on the street”, seems he was right.

      People like the escape drugs & alcohol give them, that’s never going to change.

  2. I saw elsewhere that the US is going back into Somalia.
    Are they in need of abandoned military gear?

    • We went back under Obama and have been there since. Sometimes it’s supported by a USMC ARG (Amphibious Ready Group) offshore, sometimes not. US has a significant presence in areas of Africa that were drawn down in part under President Trump and were renewed during Obama’s third term with the Brandon figurehead.

    • CitGo Gas is owned by Venezuela. They employ K Street Lobbyists. How difficult is it for a lobbyist to wire money to a Super PAC?

      Just like that, WSF. And it’s legal.

  3. Over 100,000 Americans die from drug OD (Mostly fentanyl) every year, it’s the leading cause of death for 18-35 year old’s. Media and congress? ZZZZZZ.

    • The Libertarians are all over that.

      I have a different take on things than they do, but that’s me.

      • Big-L Libertarianism works only if every damn person is high-IQ, conscientious, and at least vaguely ‘spergy. “Non-aggression principle” my skinny yellow ass.

        There are only two obstacles to a Libertarian society. How to create it, and how to preserve it from outside aggression. Apart from those little problems, it’s easy-peasy. You have to have a damned high IQ to believe in something so stupid.

        • I would add the obstacle of human nature, as you address initially.

          Nice idea, never gonna work.

          -Kle.

          • Arthur Neville (Peace-in-our-Time) Chamberlain FRS was a British politician of the Conservative Party who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. He was a bright man – and an idiot. Compare and contrast with Sir Winston Churchill, who I maintain the Brits never fully appreciated.

            One had his head in the clouds and the other had his feet planted on Mother Earth.

            There are a few hard core Libertarians who visit this blog and they have their valid opinions. I am with them on a much smaller government. Things are presently out of control in that regard. We part when it comes to an open drug trade and a disassembled military.

    • As for the OD deaths, I presume that it is a desired goal of the Establishment, since they have worked so hard at getting there.

      My take is that if people want to kill themselves, we should really just let them and stop Narcan-ing them 4x per week, or providing them with “safe, government heroin”. I know a lot of other people are not callous bastards like me, and that’s okay. I would be more than happy with e “3 Narcans and you’re out” policy… we could have the EMTs tattoo an X on the junkie’s forehead each time or something.

      -Kle.

      • We have socialized medicine in America in all but name only. So every junkie that turns blue is saved at taxpayer expense. I realize that could be a friend or relative of mine in theory, but what the open drug trade and lack of drug laws will do is wipe the brains of a significant part of society, given time. You can argue that it’s their brains to wipe and they should have the right to wipe them. EXCEPT that drug violence has increased and it spills out to regular people and creates a drag on society (those who are not brain wiped).

  4. I am surprised to see Switzerland with such a high rate. Goes against my possibly entirely wrong Swiss stereotypes.

    -Kle.

    • The Swiss escapees are those who don’t have a locked door or a fence who “walk away”. There are prisons in the US prison system that have a painted line in lieu of a fence too. There are also prisons with layers of razor wire. It depends on the offense. Of course if you “walk away”, you face escape charges on top of whatever you’re doing time for and the next facility you’re in will have locks and wire.

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