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Central America drug gang violence at 'alarming levels'

By Guttz, Feb 28, 2012 | | |
  1. Guttz
    Drug-related violence is at "alarming" levels in Central America and poses a threat to the region's security, the UN drugs watchdog says.

    The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) also said Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua had become major transit countries for traffickers.

    North America remained the biggest drugs market, the INCB's report said.

    The board also warned that illegal internet pharmacies are increasingly using social media to target consumers.

    Drug-related violence in Central America involving trafficking organisations, local and transnational gangs, and other criminal groups "has reached alarming and unprecedented levels", the INCB's annual report says.

    The report notes that El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, together with Jamaica, now have the world's highest murder rates.

    Central America is home to some 900 "maras", or streets gangs, which have 70,000 members.

    This combined with the widespread availability of guns has contributed to high levels of crime, the INCB says.

    In 2010, Honduras together with Costa Rica and Nicaragua, which both have significantly lower levels of crime, became major transit countries for drug smuggling gangs, the INCB said.

    The US, Canada and Mexico remain the biggest market for drugs, with all three countries continuing to have "high levels of illicit drug production, manufacture, trade and consumption".
    Online risk

    The INCB also expressed concern at steps taken by Bolivia to seek to legalise the chewing of coca leaf.

    The practice went against international drug conventions, the Vienna-based INCB said.

    Bolivia wants to amend the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs to remove language that bans the chewing of coca leaf.

    The Bolivian government argues that it is discriminatory, given that coca use is so deeply rooted in the indigenous culture of the Andes.

    Elsewhere in its report, the INCB notes that illegal internet pharmacies are turning to social networking sites to publicise their websites and so apparently targeting a young audience.

    This is particularly dangerous as the World Health Organization has found that more than half of medicines from such sites are counterfeit, the INCB says.

    There were 12,000 seizures of internationally controlled substances sent through the post in 2010.

    India was the country of origin for more than half the seizures, while significant amounts also came from the US, China and Poland.

    28 February 2012 Last updated at 13:06 GMT


  1. Guttz
    Should Central America's drug violence be considered a global crisis?

    A new report from the U.N.'s International Narcotics Control Board contains more grim news about the drug violence in Central America:

    Just how bad is it? To put things in perspective, in Syria, where the the United Nations is debating imposing international sanctions and many are urging humanitarian intervention, an astonishing 7,500 people are estimated to have been killed in the last 11 months. With Syria's population, that's almost 37 deaths per 100,000 people.

    By comparison, Honduras has a murder rate of 82.1 per 100,000, the highest in the world. It's followed by El Salvador at 66 and Jamaica at 60 -- all driven primarily by drug violence. With only 8.5 per cent of the world population, Latin America and the Carribean account for 27 percent of homicides.

    I don't mean to minimize the tragic violence of the Middle East, but it's a bit astonishing how little this carnage closer to home gets in U.S. political circles, particularly since, as the world's largest drug market, North Americans are directly implicated in it.

    U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is visiting Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama this week where she faces the unenviable task of touting progress in the war on drugs.

    Posted By Joshua Keating Tuesday,
    February 28, 2012 - 12:20 PM
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