Conflict, Drugs and Mafia Activities
Contribution to the Preparatory Work for the Hague Peace Conference
May 11 - 16, 1999
(a) Drugs in Cold War Conflicts
While there has been a longstanding relationship between drugs and
conflicts (see Box 1), it was with the international community's gradual prohibition
of drugs in the first half of the XXth century that this relationship became particularly
acute. Throughout the Cold War period, certain major powers, in particular the United
States, and regional powers (France, Israel and South Africa) financed their operations in
Burma, Vietnam, Lebanon, Central America, Afghanistan
and Southern Africa, or simply bought their allies' loyalty, with drug money (see
Box 3). These wars and local and regional conflicts are undeniably at the origin of
the explosive growth in drug production in a certain number of countries and have thus
contributed to the development of substance abuse in the world. In Burma, after
World War I, opium production amounted to approximately 200 tonnes. The use of
that country as a rear base by Kuomintang's troops in the 1950s, with the CIA's support,
and the government's conflict with the Communist Party and ethnic minorities boosted
production to 800 tonnes in 1988. In the last 10 years of military dictatorship,
it increased to 2,500 tonnes, enough to manufacture 220 tonnes of heroin, most
of which was exported.
In Afghanistan, opium production was approximately
300 tonnes in l979. The Soviet invasion, the government's loss of control over the
territory, the war conducted against the Communists by the Mujahidin, the destruction of
legal crops and the involvement of the Pakistani secret service in the commercialization
of heroin (with the CIA's blessing) caused production to rise to 1,500 tonnes in
1992. As in Burma following the civil war, it increased to approximately 2,500 tonnes
In the Andean countries, the increase in cocaine production
(from 500 to 700 tonnes in 1988, then to 1,010 years later) cannot be attributed
solely to wartime conditions, as the decline in living conditions in populous areas also
played a significant role in the phenomenon. However, the war against the Shining Path in
the Amazon Basin Valley of the Huallaga and the conflict in the rural areas of Colombia
were a definite factor in that growth. In Colombia, the land area under coca cultivation
has increased from 30,000 hectares in 1994 to approximately 100,000 today, mainly in
areas controlled by guerrillas or paramilitary groups acting on the army's behalf. In
addition, poppy crops and heroin production appeared in 1990. Poppies for the manufacture
of heroin, which is mainly produced in war zones, covered between 10,000 and
20,000 hectares in 1998.
In Southern Africa, the conflict caused by apartheid was at the
origin of explosive growth in the trafficking in and use of synthetic drugs, particularly
Mandrax, the smuggling of which was engaged in by both the South African secret service
and by the armed movements of the black and mixed race communities. In Mozambique and
Angola, the war coincided with a significant development in the cultivation of cannabis.
The cannabis trafficking rings were subsequently used in the post-Cold War period for the
traffic in hard drugs (cocaine) and synthetic drugs (Mandrax and amphetamine).
(b) Drugs in Post-Bipolar Era Conflicts
The end of the antagonism between the major blocks, a period during
which the two superpowers confronted each other through their Third World allies, did not
signal the end of local conflicts. It was discovered that their ideological grounds
(fighting for socialism, national liberation, anticommunism) most often concealed
confrontations over nationality, ethnicity or religion. Since the belligerents could no
longer rely on funding from their powerful protectors, they were forced to find
alternative resources in trafficking of all kinds, including drug trafficking. Some of
those conflicts, in Colombia, Afghanistan and Angola, were under way before
the Cold War ended. The withdrawal of sister parties and powerful protectors not only made
them less and less controllable, but also led some of the players to engage in mere
predatory behaviour. In other cases, the collapse of Communist regimes caused new
conflicts, in the former Yugoslavia, Azerbaidjan-Armenia, Georgia (Abkhazia,
Ossetia), Chechnya and Tadjikistan. These conflicts, which resulted in a
weakening, and in some instances dislocation, of states also led to the development of
(c) Involvement of Police Forces and Insurgents
Insurgents and police forces are also involved in most of these
conflicts, although not at the same level or in the same way. A constituted state
generally has the means to finance equipment and supplies for its law enforcement forces
(army and police). When those forces take part in trafficking, it is generally for the
personal profit of the combatants, in particular officers. However, secret services, which
have no official budgets but are paid out of clandestine funds, often have access to money
from illegal trafficking. They can also promote the trafficking of their allies so as not
to have to pay them.
Thus, at the dawn of the third millennium, we can prepare a list of
current or unfinished conflicts in which drugs are proven to be playing a role.
Latin America: Colombia, Peru, Mexico (Chiapas and
Asia: Afghanistan, Tadjikistan, India (Cashmir,
northeastern states), Burma, Philippines, Azerbaidjan-Armenia, Chechnya,
Georgia (Adjaria, Abkhazia)
Europe: Yugoslavia (Kosovo), Turkey, Ireland
Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Senegal
(Casamance), Guinee-Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of
the Congo (DRC), Congo, Chad, Uganda, Rwanda, Angola,
Somalia, Comoros (Anjouan).
(1) The analysis of the role of drugs in financing these conflicts
excludes any judgment as to the motivations of the parties, the legitimacy of their
struggle and other such questions.
(c) Drugs and Peace
In a certain number of these conflicts, the search for peace is
intimately bound up with the solution to the problem caused by the production of and
trafficking in drugs, and vice versa. Two examples are particularly significant in this
regard: Colombia and Kosovo (Serbia).
In Colombia, peace negotiations between the government of
President Andrès Pastrana and the Communist guerrillas of the Colombian
Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) opened in the borough of San Vincente de Caguán on
January 7, 1999. The first objective of those negotiations was to put an end to more
than 50 years of armed conflict, which each year had resulted in thousands of
victims, mainly civilians, and had displaced more than one million persons. As a
result of the military effectiveness of the FARC, which comprised nearly
10,000 fighters and inflicted serious reverses on the army in 1997 and 1998 (they are
detaining more than 300 police officers and soldiers), this conflict threatens to
destabilize the entire region. Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru have massed troops on their
borders to prevent any incursion by guerrillas and drug traffickers. One of the underlying
issues of the peace negotiations is to permit a reduction of coca cultivation and cocaine
production, which are two of the main sources of financing for the FARC and the extreme
right-wing paramilitary groups fighting them.
The presence of drugs in the financing of the struggle of the Albanians
in Kosovo is not expressly recognized by the international community. However, a
certain number of observers and the OGD in particular have constantly emphasized that,
since 1990, Albanian rings in Kosovo have been selling heroin imported from Turkey in
various European countries, in Switzerland in particular, in order to purchase weapons.
Those weapons, first stocked in the Albanian region of Macedonia and the Kosovo border,
were intended for an uprising and definitely assisted the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK).
While that army was subsequently equipped as a result of the pillage of Albanian barracks
at the time of President Berisha's downfall, many Albanian rings that sold drugs and
purchased weapons were still being dismantled in Europe in the second half of 1998 and
early 1999, in particular in Italy. The solution to the Kosovo conflict would definitely
be a contribution (necessary, but not sufficient) to the fight against drug trafficking
and crime of Balkan origin. A similar analysis could be conducted of the conflict between
the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers Party, which has helped to criminalize all its
protagonists: the PKK distributes heroin in Germany to finance its struggle, while the
Turkish army pays its Kurdish back-up troops with drugs or drug money and politicians are
doing business with the Mafia (see below).
Following are some examples which show that the recognition of minority
rights and the search for peace are also ways of fighting crime and drug production and
Box 1: Drugs and Conflicts in History
The relations between military expeditions, conquests and conflicts
and drugs are as ancient as humanity's use of consciousness-altering substances. The Incas
(XIIIth-XVIth centuries B.C.) rewarded their victorious captains by granting them the
privilege to cultivate coca. A drug is even associated with the word that preceded by
seven centuries the word "terrorist", which appeared during the French
Revolution: from the XIth to the XIIIth centuries A.D., the members of a fundamentalist
religious sect established in present-day Iran, Iraq and Syria who fought the powers at
Bagdad and the Western crusaders were called "assassins", from the word hachîchiyyîn,
because, rightly or wrongly, they were said to commit crimes under the influence of
The first great conflict in which a drug played a significant role
occurred in the late XVIIIth century with the Indian rebellions in the Spanish Empire. In
the siege of La Paz by rebels led by Julian Apasa, called Tupac Katari,
which lasted six months starting in November l781, coca played a decisive role for the
Indian militia, who even refused to fight unless they had been resupplied with coca
leaves. Coca leaves also enabled those under siege to tolerate hardship. Tupac Katari
ordered one of his lieutenants to conquer the region of the hot valleys (yungas)
where the coca leaf originated. The resale of the surpluses generated money to pay other
wartime expenses. Similarly, during the wars of independence against Spanish domination
commencing in 1809, the royalist forces levied a one-time patriotic contribution on the
sale of coca to finance their equipment.
Thirty years later, the "opium wars" involved a much greater
economic issue. The English flooded the Chinese market with opium produced in India in
order to balance their trade with the Celestial Empire. Seeing that tens of millions of
his subjects had become addicts, the Emperor attempted to prohibit this trade. After the
English fleet had bombarded the Chinese coast and scattered the junks of the Imperial
fleet, the British forced China, through the Treaty of Nanking (1842), to open five ports
to international trade and to grant an exclusive concession of the Port of Hong-Kong. Over
the next 10 years, opium imports to China doubled. The second opium war, the
"War of the Arrow" (1856-1858), during which the French allied themselves with
the British, was designed to break down the last resistance of the Middle Empire. The
Treaty of Tien-tsin legalized opium imports to China 1858. Eleven new Chinese ports were
opened to Western trade. The Chinese state lost its power of action to the major
"free" ports, where prices were determined by the market. The major modern
conflicts have played a decisive role in the development of substance abuse: the soldier's
disease (morphine addiction) after the War of Secession, cocaine addiction after World
War I, amphetamine abuse in Japan starting in 1945 and the heroin addiction of
American soldiers returning from Vietnam.
I. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DRUGS AND CONFLICTS
Before examining a certain number of the conflicts cited above, it is
necessary to consider more generally the nature of the relationship between drugs and
A. NATURE OF DRUG-CONFLICT RELATIONSHIP
1. Psychophysiological Effects of Drugs
Drugs can stimulate warriors' desire to fight or make them unaware of
danger, or, after a battle, ease the pain of injury or extreme tension caused by
confrontation, particularly in the case of hand-to-hand combat. This aspect of the
drug-conflict relationship is still valid today, particularly in Africa, where combatants
most often do not have highly sophisticated weapons. Drugs are systematically given to
child soldiers to enable them to face the stress of combat. These practices are important
in rebuilding civil society following the conflict because they result in the
detoxification of child soldiers and veterans but are not the focus of the search for
solutions to the conflicts themselves.
2. The links between drugs and conflicts are now of an economic nature
because of the added value which prohibition confers on drugs, which are mostly produced
in the Third World, and the fact that drugs are submitted to medical controls by the
Western pharmaceutical industry.
B. ECONOMIC LINKS BETWEEN DRUGS AND CONFLICTS
The role played by drugs in modern local conflicts since the fall of
the Berlin Wall and the need for belligerents to rely on their own resources are
consistent with a number of characteristics of their trade:
1. the first is spiralling profits: at each stage (further
divided into a number of intermediate sequences) of production, transformation and
commercialization of drugs, profit margins are considerable. In the case of cocaine and
heroin, the producer to consumer price is multiplied on average by 2,500. Each of these
stages, according to Alain Joxe, is "a stage in the accumulation of power, of
military force, because, when there are surpluses, soldiers can be fed".
Box 2: Spiralling Profits (on the basis of 1 kg of pure cocaine
paid for in dollars)
Cocaine (manufactured in Bolivia, Peru and Colombia)
- Price paid to producer by collector for 200 kilos
of leaves (= 1 kg of base paste)
- Producer price for 1 kilo of paste
- Intermediary price for 1 kilo of wash base
- Price paid to Colombian exporter for 1 kilo of
- Price paid to wholesale importer for 1 kilo
- Wholesale (New York)
- Wholesale (Paris)
- Wholesale (Copenhagen, Moscow, Riyadh)
- Proceeds of retail sale (cut product)
(1) This profit spiral is theoretical because many
cocaine users in rich countries purchase by tens or even hundreds of grams of relatively
Heroin (manufactured in Pakistan)
Price paid to producer by merchant for 1 kilo of
Price paid to merchant by lab
Price of a kilo of base morphine (10 kilos of opium)
Price of heroin from lab
Price paid at Pakistani border
Wholesale price in Turkey
Wholesale price in Holland
Proceeds from retail sale
1 500 000
2. The second characteristic is the barter of arms for drugs.
This may take various forms, ranging from the use of drug rings to procure and transport
weapons to conventional payment for weapons with drugs, potentially bartering them again
for drugs, but each time obtaining greater added value.
3. The third, quite widespread, characteristic is that the
seller offers his customer weapons and drugs. The spiralling of profits generated by
the sale of drugs gives the seller a guarantee that his customer will pay for the weapons
through drug resales. This practice also offers the advantage of not duplicating drug and
weapon rings and thus ensures security more effectively.
C. LEVELS OF FINANCING OF INSURGENT GROUPS
1. One first notes that insurgent groups are financed by a tax
levied on rural inhabitants on the value of agricultural production. For
guerrillas, this implies an exchange of services: protection from the abuses of merchants,
criminals and, especially, police incursions and predatory tactics.
2. The second level of financing involves the tax paid by merchants
and traffickers, as on any other good (unless the combatants market the product
3. Third, certain groups establish their own processing
laboratories in order to sell the finished product to traffickers.
4. The fourth characteristic of this relationship is that the
traffickers transport the product to the user countries and get involved in local
retail drug business.
The more insurgent groups get involved in downstream trafficking, the
greater the earnings. It is within the borders of the user country and in commercializing
in retail markets that the profit spiral is the greatest. But it is also at these levels
that the links with the international Mafia are most necessary and the risk of
criminalization of the insurgent groups thus the greatest.
D. DIALECTIC OF THE DRUG-CONFLICT RELATIONSHIP
Conflicts may be characterized in particular by their intensity and
territorial extension. However, where drugs are involved in their financing, they may
influence the nature of the conflicts to the point of altering the declared objectives.
1. First it should be noted that, to finance themselves through
drug sales, belligerents may use rings that predate the war and involve other illegal
2. It should also be noted that drugs, first of all, provide wartime
3. During the conflict, drugs may become a relative issue
(conflict for control over drugs in order to finance the conflict more effectively) or an absolute
issue (conflict for resources obtained through drugs beyond any other reason).
4. Conflicts in which drugs are not the driving force but rather
the issue take us back to the starting point, that is to the site of the local conflicts.
Various rebel groups may at times enter into conflict to control drug production
areas or trading routes.
5. When regular troops enter into conflict with rebels for
this control, drugs thus become central to the belligerents' interests, overshadowing
their ideological motives, and result in the criminalization of the insurgents and
the forces of law and order fighting them. In this case, drugs become a factor in prolonging
6. When the conflict is resolved, drug trafficking may persist,
and former fighters may transform themselves into trafficking gangs.
Box 3: Drugs in Cold War Conflicts
During the "Cold War", drugs became a weapon of
the secret services. Following the Japanese occupation of Burma, the Office of
Strategic Service (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA, set up camps in Assam, where its
"Detachment 101" trained many ethnic groups in anti-Japanese guerrilla
warfare. In this way, Detachment 101 entered the opium trade. As its commander,
William R. Peers, wrote: "Not using opium as currency would have put an end
to our operations." When Chiang Kai-shek's forces were defeated by the Communists in
1949, the remains of General Li Mi's 93rd division entered Burma and established
themselves in Shan state. These troops were reoganized with the aid of Taiwan and the CIA
in an attempt to invade China from the south. To finance their operations, the
nationalists developed the opium production of the local tribes. Lastly, with U.N.
assistance, KMT troops were repatriated to Taiwan, but certain contingents, their numbers
increased by local recruits, settled in Thailand. In the early 1960s, KMT put base
morphine and heroin refineries into service with the help of Hong Kong chemists capable of
producing heroin no. 4 that was more than 90% pure. During the Indochina war, the
Joint Airborne Commando Group (GMCA), led by Commander Trinquier, organized, as part
of Operation X, an extensive opium traffic for the Meo minority which formed a
genuine army of back-up troops. The drug supplied either the opium dens of Vietnam or the
heroin labs of the Corsican Mafia in Marseilles. After the French army's departure, the
CIA in turn became a secret army with as many as 30,000 Meo fighters in 1965. It was
largely financed by money from the opium and heroin trade. The CIA subsequently closed its
eyes to the traffic of its Vietnamese allies, generals Thieu, Ky and others, even though
the drug's victims belonged to the U.S. expeditionnary force. Ten percent of GIs became
heroin addicts, and 1% remained so after returning to the United States.
The same process occurred during the Central American conflict, when,
between October 1984 and October 1986, Congress opposed all U.S. military aid (Boland
amendment) to the anti-Sandinistas (contras). Airplanes from the United States
transported weapons, supplies and equipment to the contras on the southern front based in
Costa Rica, then turned back to Colombia. On their return flight, they transported loads
of cocaine provided by the Medellin cartel, which were delivered to ranches in the
northern part of the country, which belonged to a U.S. citizen, John Hull, who was
supporting the Nicaraguan rebels, in close liaison with the CIA and the National Security
Council (NSC), as was discovered when a government air transport crashed near a ranch,
killing its seven occupants. [Dale Scott, P. pp. 79-104].
II. FINANCING LOCAL CONFLICTS THROUGH DRUGS
1. Levy on Agricultural Production and Relations with Populations:
Ethnic and Marxist Guerrilla Groups
The guerrilla groups that form in rural areas without significant
outside aid (Colombia, Burma, India, Philippines, Senegal, etc.) are forced to secure the
means of their fighters' survival from local populations. Where there are illegal crops,
they levy a tax on production. This implies that the armed groups have very close
relations with the rural population in which they operate. These relations may be of two
(a) Exchange of services: this helps develop and organize
the guerrilla group's social base.
* Ethnic context
This is relatively easy when the guerrilla group is fighting for
recognition of the rights of the ethnic group that composes it, as is the case of the
Kachin army (KIO) or the Was (USWA) in Burma, the Meithei Liberation Army in the Imphal
Valley in Northeast India (Manipur state) and the Bedja in the Sudan. In these cases, the
guerrilla groups have no choice of terrain: they must fight in the areas where the ethnic
group to which they belong lives.
* Political context
When, on the other hand, armed groups fight in the name of a political
ideology, their permanent or sporadic presence in an area, which is necessary in raising
resources from agricultural production, both legal and illegal, is a fundamental factor in
their strategy. It forces them to conduct a war of position near cannabis-, coca- or
poppy-producing areas. Otherwise, crops can be harvested for the benefit of the rival
movement or for the forces of law and order. This need to "stick" to producers
is a fundamental factor in the guerrilla groups' credibility, which is based on their
ability to guarantee rural inhabitants the opportunity to cultivate and sell what they
produce, whether legal or illegal. The Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) is an
example of this symbiosis.
* Case of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC)
In Colombia, the world's number one producer of cocaine chlorhydrate
for the past 30 years and, in the second half of the 1990s, world leader in land area
under coca cultivation, all the participants in rural conflicts are linked to drug
production and trafficking. Below we consider the importance of the ties between the
extreme right-wing paramilitary militia and, through it, the Colombian army itself, and
these illegal activities. Although certain detachments of the National Liberation Army
(ELN) guerrilla group are involved in production and trafficking, they are probably less
involved than the FARC. However, we have more information on the latter because successive
governments, Colombian and U.S. police and intelligence services, and the national and
international media have made it their objective since the mid-1980s to project an
international image of the FARC as a "narco-guerrilla" group. For reasons
discussed below, the paramilitary groups and their military allies have not been the
subject of such thorough research, which does not mean that they are as involved as the
FARC or more so.
In the early 1980s, when coca crops began to expand into FARC
controlled areas, in particular in the departments of Guaviare, Ariari and Caqueta, the
initial impulse of their leaders, whose Marxist training led them to view drugs as a
product of "capitalist degeneration", was to oppose drug production and
trafficking. It was the leaders of the M-19 who convinced them that it was
"tactically" acceptable for revolutionaries to use the resources from these
activities. This argument was all the more acceptable to the FARC since the crops in
question were part of the survival strategy of the rural inhabitants who constituted their
Protecting coca growers inevitably meant negotiating with the drug
lords. The guerrilla group first set the amount of wages which the traffickers would pay
to the coca leaf pickers in exchange for a 7% to 10% levy. This tax (gramaje) was
not applied to food crops, but was subsequently extended to the base paste when rural
inhabitants began to manufacture it.
The guerrilla group also collected 8% on the price paid by merchants to
purchase leaves or base. At the same time, the FARC put pressure on farmers not to engage
in coca monoculture (2/3 of the land was supposed to be allocated to food production).
Similarly, in the areas they controlled, they prohibited the presence of thieves,
informers and contract killers, and, in particular, they took strong measures ranging up
to the death penalty for smokers of basuko (cigarettes soaked in cocaine base
waste). This social control consolidated markedly after coca prices collapsed in
1982-1983, leaving many rural inhabitants impoverished. Strict compliance with the rules
was enforced, and violations harshly punished, but accompanied by benefits experienced by
the other areas under guerrilla influence: supply of services (education, health, credit
and so on), monopoly over the use of force and administration of justice. However, this
policy also led the FARC to give owners and traffickers guarantees. In 1990, one of their
leaders told us that they had been led to oppose peasant land invasion movements.
Their role as an intermediary between producers and merchants enabled
them to secure significant resources which they reinvested in financing their territorial
expansion. The organization's development led FARC leaders to reorganize what it called
its "fronts" (columns of approximately 100 guerrillas each), increasing
their number from 7 to 32 between 1978 and 1987. The new fronts appeared in the regions
that represented an economic interest (precious stones, oil and, in particular, drugs).
This reinforcement of the organization was not without political consequences. The oldest
fronts, consisting of politically trained guerrillas with extensive experience in the
people's struggle tended to remain fixed in the regions previously occupied by the
guerrilla group and which had no economic potential. The new fronts consisted of younger
guerrillas with more militaristic practices. The guerrilla group thus developed
quantitatively, without however strengthening in political-military terms. As we will see,
this opened the door to shifts, in particular when the FARC got involved in the next
levels of the drug business.
* Tax for safety: the case of the Taliban
In early 1999, the Taliban controlled approximately 80% of Afghanistan,
and their power was disputed in multiethnic regions such as Herat and the vast area in the
central part of the country populated by the Hazara. However, support for the movement was
secure in the regions inhabited by the Pashtoon, the majority group in the country.
Peasants in these areas, particularly in the east and south, are grateful to the Taliban
for putting an end to the rackets of commanders of the various parties and therefore
accept in return the Islamic tax (zakat) levied on their harvests. The Taliban's
position on poppy crops, reiterated a number of times by Mullah Omar, their supreme
leader (emir), is that opium production is an economic necessity for the rural population.
The crop could only be eradicated in exchange for considerable financial assistance
replacing the income generated by that crop. The Taliban collects a 20% tax on the selling
price of opium and on all other cash crops. The total value of the harvest sold by
peasants in Afghanistan as a whole in 1997 was estimated at $200 million. As the
Taliban controls virtually all production areas, it thus collects levies on this business
of approximately $20 million. This is relatively little considering their needs in
wiping out the last pocket of resistance held in the north by Commander Massoud and
of what they receive from Saudi Arabia. But this provides them with a reserve in case
their traditional supports fail. Lastly, opium is increasingly being transformed into
heroin on a large scale and heroin sales represent much more significant resources.
(b) Predatory Tactics: The Case of the Casamance Rebellion (Senegal)
The tax on illegal crops (cannabis in this case) may be levied through
coercion by force of arms, as is often the case in Africa (Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra
The example on which we have the most reliable information is the
rebellion by the Mouvement des forces démocratiques de Casamance (MFDC), consisting
essentially of the Diola, an animist, forest-dwelling ethnic group that forms the majority
in this multi-ethnic region. The armed wing of the MFDC, Attika, was founded in l982. At
the outset, the income from cannabis came from the fighters' families who cultivated it.
In return, the rebels strove to provide them with protection and to help them
commercialize their production. This thus remained within the framework of an ethnic
guerrilla group as described above.
Subsequently, however, all the peasants in the areas where the
rebellion was being waged (disregarding issues of territorial control), with Diola and
those beloning to other groups such as the Mandingue or Toucouleur, were forced to pay a
tax on the value of cannabis. The rebels' protection became an entirely relative matter
when the army commenced violent offensives in which every peasant became a target
identified with an MFDC sympathizer. The guerrilla group's levies may thus be considered a
predatory practice which undermined the movement's popularity.
To evaluate the profits from the MFDC's cannabis tax, reference must be
made to the major operations conducted by the Senegalese forces of law and order in 1995
and in the first half of l996, when approximately 300 tonnes of cannabis plants and
marijuana were seized and destroyed in a few days. At an average price of 400 French
francs per kilo paid to the rural producer by the traffickers, the destroyed crops
represented 73 million francs, more than $13 million. One of the OGD's
correspondents in the area estimates that the areas destroyed represented only one-fifth
of Casamance's production. Even if the MFDC collects only 10% of the value of the harvest,
that represents considerable amounts of money for this barefoot guerrilla group. Although
the movement lost a great deal of credibility among the population (which endures its
levies in cash and in kind without the guerrilla group being able to protect them), its
weaponry considerably improved in the 1990s. Exchanges of marijuana for weapons, in which
Senegalese, but also Liberian, Ghanaian and Nigerian traffickers were involved were
conducted at the limit of territorial waters.
When peasants are victims of the rebels' predatory policies, the
strategy of the government forces is to mobilize rural inhabitants against them by
releasing them from those constraints. However, this also implies that they officially or
unofficially concede to the inhabitants of those areas the opportunity to continue their
illegal cultivation practices. In the case of Casamance, as in those of many ethnic
rebellions, the forces of law and order engage in all types of abuses, and the peasants
scarcely have much to choose between the two types of oppression and clearly come to less
harmful "arrangements" with the rebels.
In a case such as that of Peru, the forces of law and order were
constantly forced to choose to fight guerrillas or drug trafficking. The choice to close
their eyes to coca cultivation and cocaine trafficking was a way to detach the peasants
from the guerrillas and contributed to the army's victory over them.
3. Levy on Drug Trade: From Wartime Nerve to Wartime Issue
In most cases, particularly in that of products destined to be
transformed such as coca or opium, rebel groups are rarely satisfied with a levy on the
sale of agricultural produce. Two cases may be distinguished in this area. Those who make
no levy on the proceeds of peasants' sales and tax only the drug business. The levy on
commercial activities offers a number of benefits for a guerrilla movement. First, the
biggest profits can be made at this level. Second, in the eyes of the peasant social base,
this is most often an act of justice applied to people who are considered exploiters.
* Armed Groups Tax Merchants and Laboratories: The Case of the Mong Tai
Army of Khun Sa (Burma)
Khun Sa, one of Burma's leading warlords since the 1960s, gave himself
up to authorities in early 1996. He tried to present himself as a defender of the Shan
ethnic group, where he was in fact only the "Opium and Heroin King", and his
practices were indistinguishable from those of most of the other warlords in the Golden
Triangle. Today he is protected by the Burma military junta, while his children increase
his fortune by investing in the Burmese economy.
When the army levied a tax on poppy crops, Khun Sa was not earning his
income from producers, but rather from merchants who bought their supplies in areas under
his control. The tax levied is, for example, 5% on livestock, 10% on jade and 20% on
opium. Another royalty is collected by him to protect caravans transporting opium produced
in the northern part of Shan state to the Thai border where the laboratories are located.
In this area, also under the control of Khun Sa's troops, the tax levied on heroin coming
out of refineries represents 40% of the value of the product. This money, to which must be
added the revenue from taxes assessed on all other merchandise, in particular precious
stones and wood, enabled him to maintain an army of 10,000 men and to resist the
offensives by Burmese troops and those of their Wa allies. At issue in the confrontation
with the latter was control over the drug routes.
* Guerrilla Forces Take Over Commercialization: The Case of the FARC
(Colombia), the Pan-Africanist Congress (South Africa) and UNITA (Angola)
If one wishes to appreciate the influence of these characteristics of
the drug trade on the criminalization of insurgent movements, two cases should be
considered. The weapons and drug merchant is in intermediary who belongs to no
organization. He resells drugs through Mafia rings and weapons to revolutionary
organizations. The latter's relations with its supplier are the same as with any weapons
merchant. If, on the other hand, it is the organization that receives the weapons and pays
for them through the resale of drugs, there is a greater chance of institutionalizing its
relations with criminal syndicates.
Since the early 1980s, the FARC has not been content to levy a tax on
coca crops. Instead, it has attempted to finance itself through commercialization of the
finished product, which has resulted in complex relations with drug traffickers. Within
the FARC, the "drug lobby", represented on its staff by the Infrastructure
Committee and certain members of the Finance Committee, has pleaded in vain for the
organization to get involved in the manufacture and commercialization of cocaine outside
their operating zone in cooperation with the drug dealers. In the early 1990s, when
military prospects seemed nil, this lobby managed to have the guerrilla group cultivate
poppies on lands which it owned directly. The overprice paid for the opium at the time,
$1,000 to $1,500 per kilo (compared to $30 to $70 in Asia), gave them the illusion that
they were sitting on a gold mine. The poppy-growing regions are those where guerrillas and
other armed organizations have recorded their strongest expansion since the early 1990s.
The FARC and ELN agreed to standardize their drug traffic levy criteria, and the rates
would henceforth be: $11 per month for "surveillance" of a hectare of illegal
crops, $11,000 a month to protect a laboratory, $5 per kilo of cocaine leaving the lab,
$20 per kilo loaded on an airplane and $15,000 per airplane taking off from a secret
The last stage in the FARC's growing involvement in drug trafficking
dates back to 1996. In the Caguán region, in the Department of Caquetá, a major
coca-growing and cocaine-producing region, the FARC had previously been content to levy a
tax on base paste (CBP) purchased through the traffickers' intermediaries, the chichipatos.
However, the army's enforcement campaigns begun in 1996, in response to strong U.S.
pressure, followed by constant pressure by soldiers in the region over the previous two
years, had closed down the open drug markets. The chichipatos then began going door
to door along the rivers and canals buying CPB from the farms, always accompanied by one
or two FARC guerrillas responsible for monitoring the quantity of merchandise and
calculating the amount of the "revolutionary tax". The FARC probably used the
restrictive nature of this procedure, which mobilized a great many guerrillas, as a
pretext for prohibiting the presence of the chichipatos. The FARC then proceeded to
collect the CBP on its own. Since it now had stocks of CPB, the FARC inevitably had to
strengthen its ties with the cartel bosses who owned the labs with which wholesaling of
CBP intended for transformation into cocaine chlorhydrate were negotiated. Based on the
agreements reached "at the top", the FARC then redistributed the raw material
locally to the labs concerned.
Another, much more complex phenomenon resulted when the secret service,
which itself had criminal ties, infiltrated the guerrilla network. Sociologist
Stephan Ellis describes the case of the radical South African rebel movement, the
Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), based in Tanzania, which has derived a portion of its
financing from the trafficking in the synthetic drug Mandrax. This group has particularly
relied on reconverted criminal rings: "Many South African politicians come from the
townships, which were controlled by organized crime. Many guerrillas who formed the
nationalist army are either former gangsters who have understood that their problems were
political in nature or ideologues who feel that some types of crimes are justified by
their ends. The methods and routes used by guerrilla groups in South Africa have been
employed, particularly by the PAC, to introduce Mandrax into the country." When they
have managed to infiltrate those rings, the South African government security services
have often let them operate in order to continue gathering information. As a result, a
certain number of agents have been corrupted and are now participants in criminal
Since the Angolan civil war resumed in 1992-1993, branches of Unita
have become involved in importing drugs to the South African market. From Zambia, cocaine
and Mandrax are forwarded south by air and land. But air networks also link Unita bases
directly with South Africa. One Nigerian trafficker from Johannesburg told the OGD
correspondent that he had been importing cocaine in 60 to 80 kg batches from Brazil
since 1995. The air route he considered safest was through Luanda, Angola, then Maputo,
Mozambique, before arriving at Lanseria Airport, which is officially closed at
7:00 p.m., after which aircraft land at their own risk without surveillance.
4. Involvement in Drug Manufacturing and Criminalization of Armed
Groups: Burmese Communist Party, Kurdistan Workers Party (Turkey) and Taliban
A certain number of guerrilla movements go so far as to set up
processing laboratories. This was the case of the Burmese Communist Party (BCP) in the
1980s. This policy entailed cooperation with ideological enemies who had been close to
Kuomintang, such as Khun Sa and other extreme right wing war lords. After the BCP was
dissolved in 1989, the United Wa State Army which succeeded it began producing heroin,
this time with the consent of the Burmese Junta in power.
The Turkish army's announcement that heroin labs had been destroyed in
its war in Anatolia against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and that that organization
was involved in drug trafficking must be viewed in context. However, as will be seen
below, Kurdish rings in Germany distribute heroin which has likely been produced or bought
in Turkey, Lebanon and in the regions bordering Iran by high-ranking members of the
As regards Afghanistan, there is corroborated information suggesting
that the entire "heroin cycle" (production, processing, transportation to the
border, etc.) is now being taxed by the Taliban. The following table can be prepared based
on the example of Khogiani district in Nangahar, Afghanistan:
Out of total production of 4,200 kg of opium
(700 hectares x 60 kg/hectare) in 1997, annual "taxes" break down
as follows (in dollars):
Tax on producers
Tax on processing (labs)
|$6,000, 000 to $8,000,000
Tax on traffic (roads - borders)
|$7,000,000 to $9,000,000
* Prices vary with product transported (opium or heroin).
** If opium is processed on site, the tax on transportation is higher,
and vice versa. On the whole, however, total tax remains relatively stable.
5. Drugs and the Military: From Personal Corruption to Financing Secret
The struggle to control an area and the men who live there is not
unrelated to the economic activities (legal or illegal) which are carried on there. This
situation often leads law enforcement officers to get involved in the illegal practices of
the populations they are supposed to administer. Although military involvement in drug
trafficking is not systematic, it is far from being the exception. Three types of
objectives may be involved: personal enrichment of the officers concerned, reinforcement
of the military potential of the units engaged and financing secret operations in
accordance with the Cold War model (see Box 2). In the first case, criminalization of
military personnel may have serious consequences undermining the cohesiveness and
effectiveness of the military institution. In the other two, drug money helps to reinforce
the intervention capability of the military personnel involved or the activities of their
* Peruvian Military: Personal Enrichment
In the case of the Peruvian army, it would appear that the profits from
drug trafficking during the war conducted against the Shining Path in the Amazon basin in
l987 and 1995 personally enriched the officers involved. Having entered the Huallaga
Valley to fight subversion, the Peruvian military then gradually joined forces with
criminal organizations, but also actually reached agreements with the guerrillas
themselves. It took about 10 years for the drug corruption to contaminate the army as
a whole, as well as more than 100 officers, including a number of generals, and
several non-commissioned officers were prosecuted despite the government's efforts to
conceal the practices.
* Pakistani Military: Financing Secret Operations
However, drug profits may also be used by army secret services. This is
the case of the Pakistan military's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). The heroin
trafficking rings established during the Afghanistan war were used and are still used to
set up operations for destabilizing India (first with the use of Sikh rebels from the
Puenjab and now Islamists from Indian Cashmir).
* Turkish Military: Financing Militia
Between l993 and 1999, a number of mid-level officers were suspended in
the southeastern region of the country amid highly vague charges of "having engaged
in" trafficking activities. All were members of the army unit responsible for
operations against the guerrilla group of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Anatolia.
It appears, in particular, that they had covered the drug trafficking operations of
Kurdish militiamen used as backup troops against the PKK. The latter were also
occasionally paid in kind (heroin) with drugs that had been concealed by the rebel
organization. Although these relations with drug trafficking are the basis for the
political-military objectives, they represent some danger for the military institution.
Difficult relations between certain officers and the heroin milieu were the cause of the
assassination on December 23, 1993, of Major Cem Ersever, who was
responsible for the intelligence service's special operations. The Security Council and
upper echelon of the Turkish army wondered at the time "whether these involvements,
which result from actions in Anatolia and in the Turcophone territories (Caucasus, Central
Asia, Balkans) [would] not ultimately contaminate some of the officers with the virus of
* Colombian Military: Using Paramilitary Personnel Against Guerrillas
The various successive governments in Columbia have turned a blind eye
to the activities of the extreme right wing paramilitary militia to the extent that they
confront not only the guerrillas, but also all forms of left-wing opposition accused of
forming their social base. These activities are part of the anti-insurrection training of
certain Colombian army corps by the U.S. CIA and DIA. It was not until August 10,
1997, when a complex of four highly sophisticated laboratories and 700 kg of cocaine
were destroyed in Puerto Libre, on the outskirts of Yacopí (north of the Department of
Cundinamarca, the capital of which is Bogota), that the involvement of the paramilitary in
drug trafficking was officially acknowledged.
It has been noted that most of the cocaine that arrives by sea at
Spanish, Belgian and Dutch ports originates in ports on the Pacific and Atlantic Coast,
particularly Turbo in Urabá, in territories under the political and military control of
the ACU, national coordinator of the paramilitary groups led by major land owner
Carlos Castaño and Victor Carranza, the "Emerald King".
The enormous profits generated by these activities have enabled the ACU to increase its
strength and thus its territorial expansion. As a result, it is now present in all the
departments of the country and the population of displaced persons is growing. An
estimated one million Colombians fled the violence in the regions in conflict between
1986 and 1998.
Paramilitary forces are waging a true war of territorial control
against guerrilla movements to recover the coca-producing regions. In a piece of circular
logic, the war is all the more necessary since financing the conflict between the two
groups is increasingly costly. In addition, the ACU is attempting to seize the territories
that form the economic base for the FARC to monopolize drug production there. This
explains, for example, the massacre in mid-July 1997 of 35 persons in the village of
Mapiripán, on the Guaviare River (south of the Department of Meta), in the heart of a
base paste and cocaine chlorhydrate production region. The massacres continued through
1998 into early 1999. The ACU's second objective is to open a strategic corridor to the
Department of Guaviare, which is a major drug production region, also controlled by the
guerrillas. The objective of the guerrilla front in Putumayo is to put a strangle hold on
the FARC territories of Caquetá (in the southwest) and Guaviare (in the northwest) from
that department and Meta.
The army's collusion with paramilitary groups was highlighted in
particular with the dismantling of the 20th brigade in May 1998. That brigade, trained by
the CIA and specialized in anti-guerrilla operations, had committed, together with
paramilitary personnel, human rights violations so flagrant that the United States itself
had to require its dissolution.
* South African Military: Drugs in the Dirty War
In South Africa, Dr. Wouter Basson was arrested in late 1996
on charges of having sold 1,000 tablets of ecstasy. Dr. Basson had been the head
of a secret military research program on chemical and biological warfare (CBW) during the
apartheid regime. The program's purpose was to develop poisons for eliminating black
political opponents without leaving any trace. It was proven that he had proceeded with
selective distributions of Mandrax and ecstasy among black populations in order to test
their effects (to determine whether they could eliminate their combativeness). According
to sources near the prosecution questioned by the OGD, Dr. Basson and his team had
moreover exported large quantities of very pure ecstasy to Europe, particularly the
Netherlands, for their personal enrichment and to finance the activities of their
After the change in regime, Dr. Basson continued his activities
for private purposes. The ecstasy he was commercializing at the time of his arrest was
manufactured by a pharmaceutical plant located in the city of Midrand which had worked for
the secret service. It had originally belonged to the state and was subsequently
4. Involvement of International Syndicates and Criminalization of
The example of the South African secret service, together with that of
the CIA at the time of the Cold War (Box 2), shows that government agents do not
hesitate to establish friendly relations with international crime. However, this is also
the case of certain revolutionary movements. Some armed groups (FARC, Shining Path, Afghan
factions, guerrillas from the Philippines, India, Casamance, etc.) do not take action
outside their local area of influence, even when they are involved in drug processing.
However, other organizations go to a higher level in trafficking - and consequently in
profits - by setting up exporting rings to supply Western markets.
* The Kosovars
We have already mentioned the heroin rings of Kosovo. Some drug
couriers have merely returned arms to Macedonia to be introduced into the province.
However, others have managed to structure genuine drug distribution rings in Switzerland
and the Czech Republic in particular. As a result, they now have the ability to make
massive investments in the legal economy (hotels, jewellery stores, transportation) and to
purchase significant political protection. After first financing the development of
infrastructures for the Albanian population, they are now making their financial
contribution to the UCK's struggle.
* Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the "Grey Wolves"
Similarly, seizures made in Turkey, like those conducted in Europe,
particularly in Germany and the Netherlands, where there is a large Kurdish community,
confirm that drugs are helping to finance the military and other activities of the
Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Its rings appear to be responsible for 20% to 30% of the
heroin traffic transiting through Turkey. As a result, the federal government has changed
its characterization of the PKK, which is no longer designated a "terrorist
organization", but a "criminal organization". From Turkey, the rings of the
Kurdish diaspora take charge of forwarding, money laundering and even retail sales. The
economic benefit that the PKK derives from this involvement in the international trade may
be seen from the spiralling profits table. A kilo of heroin that costs $5,000 (or is
purchased in Turkey for $12,000) can bring up to $1.5 million if sold in the streets
of Germany by party members. However, it is excessive to attribute, as do the authorities
in Ankara, full responsibility for this traffic from their territory to these
organizations. The Grey Wolves, an extreme right wing organization which is often used by
the army and the political parties for their "dirty jobs", use the same methods,
while enjoying significant protection within the Turkish state.
* Algerian Islamists: Exchange of Service
Services are exchanged between organizations, political and criminal,
essentially at the ring level. Following is an example of such an exchange which puts
Islamists and Mafia members in contact with each other: in Milan in November 1994, Italian
police stopped Djamel Loucini, no. 3 of the FIS, who was suspected of having
engaged for three years in an intensive traffic in weapons intended for resistance groups.
To organize the deliveries, Loucini had first relied on rings of North African drug
traffickers operating in southwestern Germany. They provided him with their logistical
support (in particular couriers) to convey weapons via France, Spain and Morocco in
exchange for access to Loucini's financial operations to launder revenues from their
illegal activities. Settled in Italy since January 1994, Loucini had gained access to the
Mafia's underground channels - in particular the drug connections of the Neapolitan
Camorra and the labour trafficking connections in western Sicily - to assist in
transporting weapons to Algeria.
Although it is not out of the question that certain criminal rings
might convert to the revolutionary cause, particularly when that cause is a religious one,
the reverse is what most often occurs.
5. Conflicts Over the Distribution Area and for Control of the Rings
The armed organizations' investment in distribution in the market of
the user countries is not only a factor in the criminalization of those organizations, but
also a source of conflict in a foreign area.
(a) Conflict Over Urban Distribution
These confrontations involve local criminal organizations and militant
groups. In the 1990s, for example, the Camorra and African groups, Senegalese in
particular, confronted each other in certain neighbourhoods of Naples over the control and
distribution of heroin.
In other countries, members of the PKK and the Turkish extreme right
(Grey Wolves), Algerian and Moroccan rings linked to fundamentalist groups and supported
by North African "Afghans", Armenian Dashnak and Lebanese, Kosovar and Turk
rings are constantly renegotiating for control of distribution areas, often going so far
as to engage in armed conflict, as has been seen in Frankfurt, Berlin and Budapest.
Although not as intense as those in the regions in crisis, these
conflicts can have a destabilizing effect even in the heart of Europe. These are not
ordinary settlements of accounts, but paramilitary operations conducted by veteran troops
who have come to the rescue from their native countries and, after bitter fighting, oust a
distribution ring from an entire neighbourhood. In Zurich in early 1995, in one night of
fighting leaving tens of victims, a good one-third of the city's heroin distribution areas
shifted from Kosovar to Syrian-Lebanese hands. To prevent this kind of conflict from
degenerating, jeopardizing business in the "host countries", the distribution
rings employ more and more women and children, as is the case in the regions of east
Germany (between Stuttgart and Mannheim) shared between Algerian "Islamists" and
(b) Conflicts for Control of routes
These conflicts are also waged for control of the rings that travel
from the producer countries to the user countries. They most often occur near traditional
routes. In these instances, the idea is less to control a route than to break down the
competitor's infrastructures and logistics and to replace the competitor. Thus, for
example, after the anti-Armenian pogroms in the port of Azéri de Soumgaït in 1989, a
ring led by Armenian separatists linked to the Dashnak, a part of Uzbekistan which
culminates at that port, was replaced by that of the city's new mayor, Azerbaidjani
Souret Gousseinov, dubbed the "Robin Hood of Upper Karabakh". Gousseinov
had Afghan opium transit through southern Kirghizstan, the fiefdom of warlord
Bekmanat Osmonov, who trafficked in opium and weapons, supplying military equipment
to the Tadjik opponents in exchange for opium delivered to Azerbaidjan.
As a result, a series of conflicts from Central Asia to the Caucasus
are in direct contact through their supply rings. Today, after Gousseinov's fall, the ring
has fallen into the hands of the Grey Wolves, led by Iskender Guamidov, in
competition with the rings of the Dashnak and PKK (transiting through Turkmenistan and
Iran). These rings are well equipped (aircraft, helicopters, etc.). Others, like the
ethnic rings crossing the Iranian border from Afghanistan, may be compared to incursions
by commandos equipped with imported weaponry (ground-to-ground and ground-to-air missiles,
recoilless guns, etc.) and wage extremely violent military operations.
6. Interpenetration of Drugs-Weapons Rings
"Contacts" brought about by conflicts often have unexpected
results. For example, a large portion of the weapons seized in Kosovo were from Lebanese
stocks. In fact they had been exchanged by the PKK through small Middle Eastern Islamist
groups, then delivered to the Kosovars. Another example: T-34-85 tanks, stored by officers
of the former USSR in the region of Adjaria, were found in Bosnia and North Yemen (before
the northern offensive). In fact their "delivery" was the result of an agreement
between the Chechen "separatists" (Chali's Clan) and the "Moscovite drug
cartel" consisting in part of former dignitaries of the KGB and special forces
(OMON). Lastly, whereas the Chechens fought with groups of Abkhazi separatists (supported
by an Armenian brigade and Cossack "mercenaries"), they also established an
international sales ring for drugs and weapons "stolen" from the depots of the
In all these examples, drugs finance, stimulate and even produce
conflict, but also establish contacts, alliances and relay stations between a number of
armed organizations with different, even opposite characteristics. In fact, drugs fulfil
needs and create stable structures, which provide a permanent or ad hoc response to
specific demands by the "insurrectional" movements. In this sense, with regard
to the existence of supply rings, there is no distinction between the conflict and the
drugs which are supposed to finance it. Thus the preservation of relatively stable supply
structures appears to be more important than the alleged purpose of the militant
III. DRUGS AS A FACTOR IN PROLONGING CONFLICTS
In the initial stages of financing a conflict through drugs, that is to
say those linked to production and processing, the important thing is the producer back
country, control of the supply area and routes and protection of the peasant populations.
In fact, the "conventional" guerrilla groups in Latin America (Colombia, Peru)
Africa (Senegal, Liberia) and Asia (Philippines, Sri Lanka) operated essentially on this
model, that of a captive and geostrategic market. However, these insurrectional movements
have wrongly been characterizized throughout the 1980s (in particular by representatives
of the United States) as nacro-guerrilla groups, if one claims to mean that trafficking
for these groups is an end and not a means. In fact, not only have they long acted in
accordance with a political logic, but their contacts with illegal productions are often a
fundamental factor in the support peasants provide them. It is only when prospects for
seizing power and/or ideological references fade that these groups criminalize.
From the moment a conflict is financed by rings and is added to
international traffic and distribution, it becomes part of a more regional geopolitics
and, on the basis of the exchange, must rely on other forces and other interests. It may
be perverted in two ways: the infrastructures it puts in place and the benefits it derives
are often disproportionate to its avowed objectives (Lebanon, Chechnya, Upper Karabakh,
etc.). In this case, it becomes a full-fledged part of the international drug and weapons
market as a supplier of goods and services. The "rings", which are
"militant" at the outset, tend to blend into the surrounding criminality,
particularly since they are cut off from the day-to-day struggle waged in the field by
(a) Rebellion Based on Corruption: The Case of Liberia
Some rebellions are born under the sign of corruption and the search
for money which power makes available. Liberia, the site, from 1991 to 1995, of one of the
most murderous African wars, the after-effects of which are still being felt, illustrates
this situation. Charles Taylor, the warlord who subsequently became president, before
returning to Liberia, fled in 1985 taking nearly $1 million from the state coffers.
The war was triggered by clan and racial factors, with Charles Taylor representing
the revenge of the "American-Liberians" over the "black Liberians" who
had returned to power with Sergeant Samuel Doe. The war was characterized from the
outset by racketeering and predatory practices. It is therefore not surprising that
Charles Taylor sabotaged all the peace processes until he achieved his ends, that is
to say until he seized power.
(b) From Politics to Predation: The Case of Angola
The case of Angola is more complex to the extent that the conflict
between the government and Unita is of ideological origin: the self-styled Marxist
government (which was also supported at a decisive moment by Cuban troops) and Unita is
clearly anti-Communist and received support from apartheid South Africa. However, behind
this political conflict were ethnic antagonisms. The degeneration of the conflict stemmed
first from the fact that neither side had seized the advantage at the time of the Cold War
and the conflict had thus bogged down.
While the international issues (East-West conflict, Cuban and South
African intervention) feeding the country's instability appear to be fading, the country
continues to experience a situation of war. In an Angola rich in raw materials and with
numerous preferred international partners (Brazil, Portugal, Cuba), trafficking has taken
on such a scope that the leading groups of the government and Unita appear to have no
interest in restoring order. At the state level, management of the country's wealth in
partnership with northern countries has induced a permissive attitude in the latter toward
large-scale trafficking which makes use of port facilities. With regard to the opposition
in the hinterland, the political rings trafficking in diamonds and weapons have permitted
other high value-added products to be introduced, cocaine in particular. Since the Angolan
civil war resumed in l992-1993, the branches of Unita have become involved in importing
drugs to the South African market.
(c) From Ideological Struggle to Self-Replication of the Organization:
The Case of the FARC
In 1983, one U.S. ambassador characterized the FARC as a
narco-guerrilla group, a term that has constantly been used since that time. While it
means that the FARC's main objective is to live off drug trafficking, it was partial when
it was stated and remains so today. On the one hand, the FARC, which is linked to the
Colombian Communist Party, has a program for social change. In particular, it is accepted
and supported by a large portion of the population living in areas controlled by the
guerrilla group because it provides protection from exploitation by land owners, acts of
terrorism by the paramilitary militia and the predatory practices of government officers.
However, the FARC's slide into purely mercantile activities is also
undeniable. The fundamental reason is undoubtedly that, with the collapse of the eastern
Communist block and the institutionalization of guerrilla movements in Central America,
the utopian notion of seizing power in Colombia is no longer sustainable. In addition, the
death of FARC ideologue, Jacobo Arenas, in l990 definitely accelerated the pace of
changes that were already under way within the organization. The supporters of the
"militarist" line among the organization's leaders managed to seize power over
the more political line supporters, one of whose main representatives, Alfonso Cano,
originally touted as Jacobo Arenas' successor, was very soon pushed to the margins.
The military hardliners, led by Manuel Marulanda, a.k.a. "Tiro Fijo"
("bull's eye") and his prodigy Jorge Suárez Briceño, alias
"Mono Jojoy", apparently cares little about any twists in revolutionary
One may legitimately wonder whether the FARC genuinely has the desire
and ability to negotiate their 10-point political platform (democratization, social
justice, solution to drug problems, etc.) or if it is merely considering taking advantage
of this temporary peace to consolidate militarily and economically using drug money. The
militarization it has secured of a region the area of Switzerland (42,000 km2)
containing 10,220 hectares of coca plants (10% of that illegal crop in the country)
enables it to develop cocaine production with complete impunity.
The drug trade involves producers and users and, between them,
processors and marketing channels. Armed groups and those that fight them use all the
links in this drug chain to finance their activities.
The solution to drug-financed conflicts, the resources of which drawn
from this production promote the endless continuation of those conflicts when their
initial causes have disappeared, implies that the problems of illegal crops and drug use
must first be solved.
However, the development of conflicts and of the inherently related
trafficking rings does not only follow local and autonomous logic. Explosive growth in the
drug market also results from the fact that the rich countries are powerless to put an end
to these local and regional conflicts in Asia, Africa and the Balkans. The lack of
determination to isolate the Burma dictatorship, the indecision displayed in imposing a
solution to the conflicts in the Former Yugoslavia, the assertion that the conflicts in
the Caucasus and Central Asia are solely Moscow's responsibility, indeed even an internal
Russian matter and Western discretion regarding the Kurdish conflict are not without
consequences for the development of drug trafficking and use in Europe. A study of the
method whereby conflicts are financed through drugs must therefore include some
consideration of the geopolitical failures of the major powers in relation to these
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
A. IN THE FIGHT AGAINST DRUGS
1. Reducing the Production of Illicit Crops: Enhance the Value of Legal
Here we can only extend the proposals made by the OGD in the case of
cannabis in Africa. Illegal crops in Latin America and Asia develop as substitute crops as
a result of the devaluation of other agricultural productions and to absorb unemployed
labour that has been expelled from urban areas. It therefore seems fundamentally important
to reflect on the idea of enhancing the value of legal crops in cannabis-, poppy- and
coca-producing countries rather than propose to introduce "substitute crops",
which are not necessarily adapted to the abilities or needs of the production system in
the rural areas concerned.
In this regard, it appears that any progress will first be submitted to
high-level negotiations between the international institutions responsible for economic
policies in the southern countries (mainly the International Monetary Fund and the World
Bank) and the international community.
2. Preventing Drug Use: Promote Action in Civil Society
The means put in place to fight against drug trafficking must be based
on a reduction of demand. However, police cooperation in northern countries with police
forces in the south cannot produce results if governments remain obsolete and undermined
by serious problems of corruption and financial difficulties. However, civil society
appears more capable of understanding the issues and less paralyzed by the scope of the
phenomenon. It must be a full-fledged participant in prevention programs financed by
northern national and international (UNIDCP, European Union) institutions since, in most
cases, it is already offsetting the failures and contradictions of the states.
3. Reduction in Trafficking: In the South, Strengthen the State and
Fight Corruption; in the North, Fight Money Laundering and Large-Scale Crime
The fight against drug trafficking cannot be based first and foremost
on technical measures, but rather on a strengthening of the state's role and good
governance in the south and a more effective struggle against money laundering in the
north, where most drug profits are recycled.
(a) In the governments of many developing countries, leaders, senior
civil servants and the local powers are themselves involved in trafficking. However, the
northern governments conceal their intentions so as not to compromise their economic or
strategic interests. No one is corrupted except by corrupters. As long as this situation
prevails, it is vain to hope to demand that the forces of law and order get involved in a
constant struggle. Furthermore, the northern countries and the international organizations
which reflect their actions, must not impose standardized measures - either legislative
(anti-money laundering laws) or organizational (master plans) - finessing the manner in
which those laws could be degraded into local legislative and customary systems.
(b) Include in all economic discussions and agreements components
concerning the fight against drug trafficking, as is generally the case in the human
rights and environmental fields.
(c) Set an example in the fight against money laundering by intervening
in offshore havens (Caribbean, Jersey, Monaco, etc.), where subsidiaries of northern banks
engage in debatable activities.
(d) Do not support investments or national economic sectors which might
launder money from criminal activities. Closely monitor northern investors who might
launder money from criminal activities (hotels, casinos, clinics, rag trade, etc.).
(e) Do not cooperate in this field with countries where members of the
government whose senior administration is involved in trafficking or takes no action
against subordinates who are.
(f) Systematically prevent northern countries from doing business with
B. IN THE FIELD OF CONFLICT PREVENTION AND RESOLUTION
1. Diplomatic Action
(a) Peace Before Economic Interests
Conflict prevention in the diplomatic field consists first of all in
putting peace efforts before economic or geostrategic interests. The civil war in
Congo-Brazzaville undeniably smells of oil, with various major powers backing one or both
of the sides to preserve the interests of their companies.
(b) Peace Before Strategic Interests
In the case of peace efforts in the Sudan, certain northern states are
also seeking to preserve their geostrategic interests in the region rather than work
towards a negotiated solution. This is also the case of regional powers such as South
Africa and Angola, for example.
(c) A Coherent Evaluation of Anti-Drug Action Before Diplomatic
In the case of countries such as Iran, which has an active and coherent
anti-drug policy, diplomatic interests, particularly those of the United States, which
"decertified" Iran for more than a decade, are not understood and emphasize the
incoherencies of the northern countries. On the other hand, France unreservedly supports
Equitorial Guinea, which is led by a narco-government.
2. Action Against the Distribution of Light Weapons
A series of initiatives is under way in the world to fight against the
distribution of light weapons, in particular by leading their producers to refuse to
export them to Third World countries. The fight against conflicts financed by drugs must
be supported and extended to the south.
Codes of Conduct must be adopted with regard to the distribution of
* International Initiatives
Fifteen Nobel Peace Prize laureates (Dalai Lama, Elie Wiesel, and so
on) and Oscar Arias Sanchez, former President of Costa Rica, introduced an initiative in
May 1997 to have such codes adopted at the national and regional levels. On
January 9, 1998, UNESCO Secretary General Federico Mayor, publicized his support for
the European Union's initiative in this area. On June 8, 1998, the Code of Conduct
for weapons exports was passed by the Union's Council on General Affairs.
* National Initiatives
A national initiative is under way in the United States under the name
Code of Conduct for Arms Transfers. The Belgian Parliament is considering an amendment to
national legislation on weapons sales and a sub-committee of the Committee on Foreign
Affairs conducted hearings in 1999. Various NGOs, including the OGD, were heard on this
* African Initiatives
An initiative by Saferworld and the Institute for Security Studies,
financed by the British government, has resulted in a regional action program for Southern
Africa on light weapons and their illegal trafficking in May 1998.
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