Colombia’s cocaine industry is of crucial importance to the drug-trafficking industry. The pandemic created a criminal vacuum in Colombia which criminal actors, including the Jalisco Cartel (CJNG), took advantage of. Although there was a CJNG presence in Colombia pre-pandemic, its relationships and the violence it is causing appear to be growing significantly.
Why Does This Matter
- The CJNG is highly likely dependent on Colombia to maintain its economic structure since there is a lack of alternatives in other coca-producing states. This and the pre-established trafficking routes make it highly likely that the CJNG places Colombia as a key driver of its growth.
- It is highly likely that the CJNG seeks to encourage the conflict in Colombia through the influx of weapons and capital. The CJNG has traded weapons and capital to already-confronted organizations in the country’s southwest. This exploits the conflict between different criminal factions in Colombia, broadening the room for the influence of the CJNG.
- It is likely that the CJNG intends to increase its footprint in Colombia at the expense of the Cartel de Sinaloa (CDS). A proxy war through criminal actors has seen Mexican cartels face off in Antioquia. Growth in influence likely inclines Colombian non-state actors to support the CJNG, reducing corridors and capability for the CDS.
Why Is This Important?
Violence is rising in certain regions of Colombia. Following the peace negotiations with the FARC in 2016, a power vacuum was created in the country since the FARC no longer had a presence. Currently, the actors are the Gulf Clan (Urabeños, Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, AGC), the ELN, the EPL, and a range of dissidents FARC cells which did not participate in the negotiations. During the pandemic, the department of Cauca saw an increase of 29 percent in violence against civilians. Ex-FARC cells reportedly disputed territory in the south of Cauca during July and August. President Ivan Duque has placed responsibility on the drug trafficking industry.
The Mexican cartels have used weapons as a trading tool rather than capital. Both the CJNG and the CDS have monetized weapons in exchange for cocaine. In Antioquia, the CJNG and the CDS have clashed through proxies for the control of the drug trafficking corridors. Colombia produces 70 percent of the world’s cocaine. The regional importance of Colombia for Mexican cartels makes it likely that the CJNG will continue attempts to disrupt CDS’s influence.
The group purchases the substance in Colombia for a maximum of $5,000/kg; while in Mexico cocaine is sold at a minimum of $15,500/kg. The purchasing price of cocaine in Colombia is multiplied by 25 when sold in the United States. The conditions in Colombia almost certainly incentivize the CJNG to expand its business to a more lucrative territory.