Deforestation and Drug Trafficking

Drug-Trafficking-Linked-to-Deforestation-in-Central-America-422866-2In Central America forests are being destroyed for the purpose of transporting Narcotics. This has been known to occur in Guatemala and Honduras where trees are cut down for landing strips and roads to move the drugs. Additionally the influx of large amounts of drug money has allowed timber traffickers, ranchers, and oil palm growers to increase their activities.

The increase in drug trafficking in Central America is due to the crackdown on trading narcotics in Mexico. Although Central American countries, like Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, have been used to smuggled cocaine and marijuana for decades, the situation in Mexico has pushed more trade into the area. Most importantly, the operations are moving into remote areas where it is necessary to clear trees.

This vast deforestation is known as the ‘narco-effect.’ In Honduras alone, as cocaine movement rises, the level of deforestation per year has quadrupled between 2007 and 2011. The problem lies with monitoring as the forests are poorly governed, conservation groups are threatened, and state prosecutors are paid off. Adding to the fear of speaking out, Honduras now has one of the world’s highest homicide rates.

Once the land is cleared some drug dealers have found it advantageous to use the land for farming. Once they start using it, the indigenous people, as well as authorities do not speak out about the right to own the land. The farms provide a great way to launder the drug money. Additionally, once the land ‘belongs’ to the drug dealers they can sell it off for corporate concerns.

Many believe that the crackdown on drugs hasn’t done anything except drive the industry into remote areas. This puts vast amounts of forest at risk of becoming permanent farming land. Conservations have a difficult task before them to get this situation under control.

This is another instance where drugs contribute to the destruction of our world. In these deforestations, not only are drugs thus manufactured and produced, but thousands of people are displaced from their farms and forced to relocate, along with many others suffering in more unimaginable ways. The devastation has already hit us personally for many years, most recently with the high-profile and unfortunate death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who tragically died due to a heroin overdose.