Colombia Struggles with Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking


Colombia has long had the reputation as the home of major drug smugglers, particularly those involved in the cocaine trade. However, the origin of trafficking drugs in Colombia began much earlier than cocaine, with a small group of marijuana smugglers.

In the 1930's some Colombians began to grow cannabis on the Guajira Peninsula in the northeast portion of the country. In response to the increased demand for marijuana (cannabis) in the 1960s and 1970s, Colombian production also grew. Drug profits helped to build prosperous cities like Barranquilla and Santa Marta. There was no violence in those days, although tens of thousands of people were making a good living with this crop.

However, some marijuana traffickers, who had been smuggling marijuana to the US already, started in the mid-1970s to export small quantities of cocaine hidden in suitcases to the United States. At the time cocaine could be processed for $1500 per kilogram in jungle labs and could be sold on the streets of America for as much as $50,000 per kilogram.

Drug Cartels

This highly profitable business attracted some unethical people and several cocaine cartels were formed. Their business model used bribes, intimidation, violence and murder to forge drug trafficking routes to South Florida. This started the cocaine boom in the late 1970's.

Since that time, Colombia has been home to some of the most violent and sophisticated drug trafficking organizations in the world. The most well-known of these was the Medellin cartel, which was eventually taken out by the Cali cartel whose leaders assisted the DEA to identify and catch some of the Medellin leaders. However, cocaine trafficking still occurs in Colombia as does cocaine use among the people of the country.

Empires Built on Cocaine Profits

What started as a small cocaine smuggling business has, in the last forty years, bloomed into an enormous multi-national cocaine empire. Today traffickers have so much capital under their control that they are making some US and European banks rich with their profits. A recent study stated that 97 percent of the profits from cocaine smuggling leaves the country and goes to banks and large businesses in first-world countries.

Drug smugglers also have ample resources to build sophisticated smuggling equipment, such as a high-tech submarines that make one-way trips to northern ports and then are scuttled. Colombian cocaine traffickers hired engineering experts from Russia and the United States to help design these submarines to avoid detection. The submarines that are located continue to grow in sophistication, size and payload.

Colombia also Exports Heroin to the US

In addition to the whole cocaine trafficking scene, Colombia also produces most of the opium annually that has been refined and makes its way into the US as heroin. There are conflicting reports on the numbers of tons imported from Colombia as supposedly Mexican opium refiners are now using Colombian methods. These drugs flow into the US on the same pathways as cocaine.

Extradition of Cartel Bosses is Helping Break up Cartels

Recently, in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, the government has adopted a new and effective strategy for busting up the cartels. They are extraditing their top crime bosses and the most dangerous enforcers to the US, where they face drug trafficking charges and end up in US prisons. This essentially is "disorganizing" organized crime in Colombia. So far, about 1,300 of them have been sent north to face charges and serve time in American prisons. The result has been a steady erosion of organized crime's capabilities in Colombia — a lesson for other countries in the region threatened by drug gangs.

Cocaine Usage Increasing in Colombia and other South American Countries

Overall cocaine demand over the past ten years in the US is decreasing. However, according to the UNODC 2012 World Drug Report, during this decade, the prevalence of cocaine use appears to have increased in several other regions with large populations, notably South America, and, to a lesser degree, Africa and Asia. This resulted in a global shift in the demand for cocaine. It also means that more drug abusers in Colombia and other South American countries are in need of effective drug rehab.

Narconon Helps Those with Drug Abuse Problems

Narconon Colombia

Although the need for drug rehab is huge, there are not many drug rehab programs in the country of Colombia. For those who really want to stop abusing any drugs or alcohol, they are fortunate that Narconon has come to Colombia.

The Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program has two locations in Colombia, one not far from Medellin beside the Tatama National Park and one which was started in 1996 in a center on the outskirts of Santa Fe de Bogota. At either location, the person recovering from drug abuse learns tools to help him to restore his self-respect and personal values. These are often lost when someone abuses drugs.

Drug Abuse Help

The Narconon program results in lasting sobriety for the majority of its graduates. The full Narconon program helps the recovering user to handle both the physical and the mental or emotional aspects of drug abuse. The path back to a fully sober life is not short. It usually takes someone at least three months and sometimes up to five or six months to fully recover his sobriety. When he has completed the program, the graduate of a Narconon rehab program has the tools to remain drug-free and live a successful life.

For more information about Narconon centers in Latin America, please call a drug rehab specialist today.


  • The Colombian Cartels, PBS - Frontline, 1995-2013: Available online at:
  • How Colombia is busting drug cartels, CNN, updated, Wed January 18, 2012, Available online at:
  • "Western banks 'reaping billions from Colombian cocaine trade.'" The Observer/Guardian, June 2, 2012. Available online at:
  • UNODC World Drug Report, 2012, United Nations publication, Vienna, Available online at:

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