El Salvador Cocaine and Drug Addiction Problem

Town in El Salvador

El Salvador. The Savior. Caught in the crosshairs of international drug trafficking, El Salvador needs someone to save it from the ravages of drug trafficking patterns that crisscross this small country.

El Salvador is tucked into a corner of Central America. El Salvador and Honduras together claim all the real estate from the Pacific to the Atlantic, just south of Guatemala. These three countries are referred to as the Northern Triangle of Central America. Any shipments of cocaine or heroin taking a land route from Colombia or one of the other drug-producing South American countries must pass through El Salvador or Honduras and then continue on through Guatemala on their way to North America.

The Northern Triangle is the focus of intense drug-related violence. El Salvador’s murder rate rose between 2003 and 2006 and was the highest in Central America until Honduras passed it in 2008. By 2008, El Salvador’s murder rate was five times that of Mexico and ten times that of the United States. Murder rates are highest around ports and near borders, as these are the most prone to drug trafficking activity. In particular, the province of Sonsonate possesses a key port for drug traffickers.

This level of violence created enormous costs. One UN report estimated that violent crime consumed 11 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

Unfortunately, Drug Enforcement Efforts Break Up Big Cartels into Smaller, More Flexible Organizations

As the US, Mexican and Colombian governments began to go after the big Colombian and Mexican cartels that were moving nearly all of the cocaine through the area, smaller cartels began to develop. These cartels could more easily change their routes and procedures and began to offer Salvadoreans a cut of the product to help them handle their shipments. As a result, more cocaine began staying at home.

crack cocaine

Now, most of the cocaine consumed by Salvadoreans is no longer powder cocaine. This form of the drug is too expensive for most citizens in this country where three out of ten people live in poverty. Some years ago, in a masterful marketing move, Colombian drug traffickers began to distribute cocaine in its cheaper, more powerful form: crack cocaine. Now for those who live in poverty, begging and prostitution support habits of crack cocaine, model airplane glue or Tic-Tam rum.

Nor is crack cocaine the only drug consumed in the country. El Salvador has relatively high rates of amphetamine-type stimulant consumption. Methamphetamine manufacture has been discovered taking place across the border in Honduras. In 2008 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, police broke up a methamphetamine ring that ran two labs in the capital city. But ironically, consumption rates are much higher in El Salvador than Honduras.

Gang Activity Complicates the Trafficking Scene

The Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13) gang located in cities across the US was founded by Salvadorean immigrants. It became known for the ruthlessly violent acts of its members and attracted law enforcement attention. As gang members began to be arrested and deported back to El Salvador, they took their gang culture and organization with them. Now, more MS 13 gang members exist outside the US than inside.

Because of their willingness to commit murder, MS 13 gang members in El Salvador began to be recruited by the Colombia drug cartels to serve as ruthless protection troops who could fight back against the equally violent members of the Zetas used as security by a Mexican cartel. The Zetas were founded by former military groups and after a period of time protecting the Gulf cartel, they established their own trafficking operations.

Salvadoreans Deserve a Drug-Free Environment

Like in any other country, the vast majority of Salvadoreans simply want to live enjoyable lives with their families and friends. These are the people who can be helped by the Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. In countries around the world and in Latin America, the Narconon drug treatment program uses a drug-free method to help a person rebuild a life that has been destroyed by drug use and addiction. When each participant has a chance to clean and rebuild his body and restore his personal values and sense of ethics, he or she can make the drug-free decisions that create lasting sobriety.

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