Cocaine Recession Is No Blow to the Cartels | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Cocaine Recession Is No Blow to the Cartels

Colombian cocaine production has plunged, along with demand. But savvy cartels find alternative ways to thrive.


Is the cocaine economy going up in smoke?
Photo via

By May Wilkerson


| Share

Colombia, which has long reigned as the world's primary coke producer, seems to have lost its crown. The South American country's coke production has dropped an estimated 72% since 2001—including a 25% fall in the last year—according to US drug czar Gil Kerlikowske. So for the first time since 1995, Peru and Bolivia have moved ahead. The Office of National Drug Control Policy says these results "didn’t happen overnight," but reflect "a sustained effort requiring nearly a decade of steady, strategic pressure across more than one administration in both the United States and Colombia." The drop in cocaine production coincides with lower consumption of the drug in the US—evidenced by fewer recorded cocaine OD's and seizures, and a significant drop in positive workplace drug tests. “The results are historic and have tremendous implications, not just for the United States and the Western Hemisphere,” says Kerlikowske.

So will this decline in cocaine production drive Latin America's notorious cartels out of business? It seems unlikely. The US is still ravenous for marijuana—much of it coming from Mexico. And as The Economist's "Schumpeter" blog points out, the cartels will likely prosper for some time yet, due to their flexibility, resourcefulness and willingness to use tactics that are—often literally—cutthroat. A number of factors not enjoyed by large legal multinationals work in their favor, including the ability to dodge tariffs by trafficking illegally across country lines. They're also adept at adapting to shifting markets, claims Schumpter, and have switched their focus to Europe—where demand for cocaine remains high. Unfortunately for the tens of thousands losing their lives to the collateral violence, it seems even a major cocaine recession won't put the cartels out of business anytime soon.

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
An Audience with Gabor Maté

According to the rock star of addiction theory, every addict had a traumatic childhood whether they realize it or not.

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv