Exploiting The Drug Trade

Narcoterrorism refers, first, to the activities of a number of guerrilla groups worldwide. These groups engage in terrorism and insurgency and also exploit the drug trade for financial gain. In most cases this exploitation involves rural-based guerrillas. Guerrillas and the drug trade (especially cultivation and processing) both tend to thrive in rugged, remote areas where government control is weak and where a nationally integrated economic infrastructure is lacking.

Rural-based guerrillas make money primarily by extorting ''war taxes'' from growers and traffickers. Thus the relationship between guerrillas, on the one hand, and the growers and the traffickers, on the other, is frequently rooted in coercion and conflict.

Nevertheless, guerrillas, growers, and traffickers sometimes cooperate in a marriage of convenience. The degree of government pressure exerted in an area can at times act as a unifying factor. Local family and/or personal relationships in a drug region can bring guerrillas, growers, and traffickers together, at least for periods of time.

A number of guerrilla groups have used both coercion and cooperation to exploit the drug trade. Examples include the following: The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's largest and oldest insurgent group, and Colombia's National Liberation Army (ELN); Peru's Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and the Revolutionary Movement Tupac Amaru (MRTA); and the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) in the Middle East.

In addition to or apart from ''taxation ' and ''protection'' arrangements, various groups themselves have been directly involved in the drug trade:

In Colombia, the FARC controls its own coca fields and processing laboratories for Cocaine. FARC may have some drug distribution networks, although evidence for this is fragmentary.

In Southeast Asia's Golden Triangle of Thailand, Burma, and Laos, guerrillas have long been actively involved in every stage of the Opium/Heroin pipeline. They have frequently devolved into warlord trafficking organizations and dominate the drug business in the area.

Some guerrillas in the South Asian subcontinent (the Indian peninsula of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sikkim, and India), such as the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) and the Sikhs, have used expatriate communities abroad to smuggle heroin.

Lebanon's Hizballah reportedly smuggles drugs as a result of afatwah (an Islamic religious decree). In 1987, the police uncovered narcotics in a Hizballah terrorist arms cache near Paris, France.

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