Conflict, Drugs and Mafia Activities

Contribution to the Preparatory Work for the Hague Peace Conference

May 11 - 16, 1999

MARCH 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 1998.

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 drug trafficking.


(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 Guerrero)

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 use.


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 hashish.

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.


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 conflict.



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.



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 chlorhydrate

2 500

- Price paid to wholesale importer for 1 kilo (Miami)

14 000

- Wholesale (New York)

30 000

- Wholesale (Paris)

40 000

- Wholesale (Copenhagen, Moscow, Riyadh)

150 000

- Proceeds of retail sale (cut product)

500 000

(1) This profit spiral is theoretical because many cocaine users in rich countries purchase by tens or even hundreds of grams of relatively pure drug.

Heroin (manufactured in Pakistan)

Price paid to producer by merchant for 1 kilo of opium


Price paid to merchant by lab


Price of a kilo of base morphine (10 kilos of opium) from lab

1 200

Price of heroin from lab

3 000

Price paid at Pakistani border

5 000

Wholesale price in Turkey

12 000

Wholesale price in Holland

50 000

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.



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 themselves).


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.



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 goods.


2. It should also be noted that drugs, first of all, provide wartime nerve.


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 the conflict.


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].



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 types:


(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 social base.

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 Leone).

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 landing strip.

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 organizations.

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 (Afghanistan).

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 organization.

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 Operations

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 secret services.


* 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 corruption."


* 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 laboratory.

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 privatized.


4. Involvement of International Syndicates and Criminalization of Insurrectional Movements

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 Moroccans.


(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 Caucasus.

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 objective.




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 their organization.


(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 ethics.

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 problems.





1. Reducing the Production of Illicit Crops: Enhance the Value of Legal Crops

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 narco-governments.



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 Interests

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 light weapons.


* 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 matter.


* 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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