सीधे मुख्य सामग्री पर जाएं

Playing double game, complicit governments across the world support drug trade

By John P. Ruehl 

The modern globalized world has made it easier and far more lucrative to facilitate and enable international drug networks, and several governments, or elements within them, actively work with criminal groups to support the flow of drugs around the world. This has led to a surge in drug usage among people worldwide, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s World Drug Report 2022, with 284 million people between the ages of 15 and 64 using drugs globally in 2020, which amounts to “a 26 [percent] increase over the previous decade.”
State involvement in the drug trade occurs for a variety of reasons. The allure of profiteering can entice state actors to produce and transport drugs, particularly if their country is under financial duress. Producing drugs or merely taxing drug routes can bring in much-needed funds to balance budgets, create sources of “black cash,” or enrich elites. Allowing the drug trade may also be deemed necessary to ensure regional economic stability and can prevent criminal groups from confronting the state.
In other instances, government agencies and institutions might be “captured” by criminal elements that have gained extreme influence over political, military, and judicial systems through corruption and violence. Government entities also often become too weak or compromised to stop criminal groups, which “have never before managed to acquire the degree of political influence now enjoyed by criminals in a wide range of African, [Eastern] European, and Latin American countries.”
Finally, some governments use the drug trade to promote foreign policy objectives as a form of hybrid warfare. Supporting criminal groups in rival or hostile countries can help challenge the authority of the governments in these states, but it is also an effective way to promote social destabilization. Introducing drugs to other countries fuels local criminal activity, plagues their court and prison systems, induces treatment and rehabilitation costs, and causes immense psychological stress and societal breakdown through addiction.

The Complicity of State Actors in the Drug Trade

The Russian government’s involvement in the international drug trade is due to several reasons. Russian state entities have sought to raise cash for their own benefit but have also historically worked with powerful criminal groups due to corruption and to avoid bloodshed (though the Kremlin has steadily absorbed Russia’s criminal elements under Russian President Vladimir Putin). Additionally, with the West imposing sanctions on the Kremlin after its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Kremlin is seeking to punish some EU countries for supporting Kyiv by bringing drugs into the bloc, leveraging its connections to the Eurasian underworld to do so.
The Kremlin’s role in the drug trade has provided it with influence over former Soviet states in Central Asia, which have also facilitated the drug trade from Afghanistan to Europe for decades. The criminal elements that control this northern route have immense influence over the political and security elites of Central Asian states and rely on cooperation with Russian intelligence services.
Much of the drug trade provides funding for Russian intelligence services, and the Kremlin appears to have approved an increase in drug trafficking in 2022 largely because of the financial difficulties stemming from its invasion of Ukraine.
The Balkans are also a key gateway for drugs entering Europe. In Bulgaria, corruption has seen high-level politicians implicated in drug smuggling, in addition to officials in Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. The Council of Europe, meanwhile, accused Hashim Thaçi, the former prime minister and president of Kosovo, as well as his political allies, of exerting “violent control over the trade in heroin and other narcotics” “and [occupying] important positions in ‘Kosovo's mafia-like structures of organized crime’” in 2010. Kosovan politicians continue to face allegations of corruption.
Morocco’s government has largely accepted drug networks to support national economic livelihood, which serves “as the basis of a parallel economy,” while this relationship is reinforced by corruption in the country. Libya had more of a state-backed drug production and export apparatus under former leader Muammar Gaddafi, though this mechanism broke down following the civil war in 2011. However, the close relationship between Guinea-Bissau’s “political-military elites” and drug smugglers has made it Africa’s greatest example of state complicity in aiding international drug networks. The country’s importance in the international drug trade stems from its proximity to Latin America and Guinea-Bissau’s geographic use as a transit stop for criminal groups seeking access to the European market.
In recent years, politicians from Venezuela, Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia, and other Latin American countries have been accused or suspected of aiding and abetting criminals involved in the drug trade. United States officials have also accused former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and his political allies of “state-sponsored drug trafficking,” as he awaits trial in the United States.
But there has been a decades-long involvement of the United States in the drug trade. In the 1950s, for example, the CIA gave significant support to anti-communist rebel groups involved in the drug trade in the Golden Triangle, where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet. The cooperation lasted into the 1970s, and ongoing corruption in the region means state authorities continue to permit criminal groups a degree of operability.
The CIA also admitted to ignoring reports about Nicaraguan Contra rebels selling drugs in the United States to fund their anti-communist campaign in the 1980s. The United States permitted Afghan farmers to grow opium poppy during the Obama administration’s handling of the War in Afghanistan in 2009 and has been suspected of cultivating Latin America’s drug networks to control the region.
Drug deaths in the United States have, meanwhile, been rising significantly since 2000 and hit record highs during the pandemic, with fentanyl responsible for two-thirds of total deaths. China has been accused by Washington of allowing and enabling domestic criminal groups to import fentanyl into the United States.
While this trade partially diminished after pressure from Washington, fentanyl exports from China now often make their way to Mexico first before crossing the U.S. border. China’s willingness to cooperate with U.S. authorities, as well as authorities in Australia, where Chinese drugs are also imported, has declined as relations between Beijing and Western states have worsened. China’s government is also mildly complicit in the Myanmar government’s far more active and direct role in facilitating the drug trade in Southeast Asia. This is due to Myanmar’s need to both raise funds and control militant groups in the country.

Drug Trade Supporting Economies in Some Countries

Drug production and exporting also give regimes an option for long-term survival. A 2014 report from the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea indicates that after North Korea defaulted on its international debts in 1976, its embassies were encouraged to “‘self-finance’ through ‘drug smuggling.’” In the 1990s, this gave way to state-sponsored drug production to further increase access to foreign currency.
Most of the suspected or arrested drug traffickers from North Korea over the last three decades have been diplomats, military personnel, or business owners. In 2003, Australian authorities busted a North Korean state-sponsored heroin smuggling operation while following Chinese suspects. But by 2004, China was also admitting to problems with North Korean drugs crossing their mutual border. And in 2019, Chinese authorities arrested several people with connections to the North Korean government who were involved in a drug smuggling ring near the border.
The Syrian government has produced and exported drugs for decades. But sanctions and civil war since 2011 have severely weakened Syria’s leadership, prompting it to drastically increase its drug operations to raise funds and maintain power. Exports of Captagon and hashish now generate billions of dollars a year for the Syrian government and far exceed the value of the country’s legal exports.
In neighboring Iran, government officials, as well as state-affiliated groups like Hezbollah, are also complicit in profiting off the drug trade, which also implicates Lebanese officials. Involvement in the drug trade by state-sponsored groups like Hezbollah or Turkey’s Grey Wolves reveal attempts by Tehran and Ankara respectively to make these groups self-sustaining when state support withers.
Overt participation in the drug trade by certain states is likely to continue. Sanctions help fuel the drug trade by making states more inclined to resort to these networks to make up for lost economic opportunities. Additionally, most efforts to combat the drug trade are largely domestic initiatives. Less corrupt law enforcement agencies are often unwilling to work with their counterparts in other countries through forums like Interpol, for fear of their complicity in illegal drug networks. The drug trade also remains a valuable geopolitical tool for states.
Nonetheless, state involvement in the drug trade is a risky venture. It emboldens criminal actors, often involves inviting drugs into national territory, and can result in enormous public backlash. While preventing the involvement of state actors in these practices will be a difficult task, the most overt instances should be scrutinized more thoroughly to ensure these policies are given greater attention.
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This article was produced by Globetrotter. John P. Ruehl is an Australian-American journalist living in Washington, D.C. He is a contributing editor to Strategic Policy and a contributor to several other foreign affairs publications. His book, Budget Superpower: How Russia Challenges the West With an Economy Smaller Than Texas’, was published in December 2022

टिप्पणियाँ

ट्रेंडिंग

नफरती बातें: मुसलमानों में असुरक्षा का भाव बढ़ रहा है, वे अपने मोहल्लों में सिमट रहे हैं

- राम पुनियानी*  भारत पर पिछले 10 सालों से हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी भारतीय जनता पार्टी (भाजपा) राज कर रही है. भाजपा आरएसएस परिवार की सदस्य है और आरएसएस का लक्ष्य है हिन्दू राष्ट्र का निर्माण. आरएसएस से जुड़ी सैंकड़ों संस्थाएँ हैं. उसके लाखों, बल्कि शायद, करोड़ों स्वयंसेवक हैं. इसके अलावा कई हजार वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ता हैं जिन्हें प्रचारक कहा जाता है. भाजपा के सत्ता में आने के बाद से आरएसएस दुगनी गति से हिन्दू राष्ट्र के निर्माण के अपने एजेण्डे को पूरा करने में जुट गया है. यदि भाजपा को चुनावों में लगातार सफलता हासिल हो रही है तो उसका कारण है देश में साम्प्रदायिकता और साम्प्रदायिक मुद्दों का बढ़ता बोलबाला. इनमें से कुछ हैं राम मंदिर, गौमांस और गोवध एवं लव जिहाद. 

हिंदी आलोचना जैसे पिछड़ चुके अनुशासन की जगह हिंदी वैचारिकी का विकास जरूरी

- प्रमोद रंजन*   भारतीय राजनीति में सांप्रदायिक व प्रतिक्रियावादी ताकतों को सत्ता तक पहुंचाने में हिंदी पट्टी का सबसे बड़ा योगदान है। इसका मुख्य कारण हिंदी-पट्टी में कार्यरत समाजवादी व जनपक्षधर हिरावल दस्ते का विचारहीन, अनैतिक और  प्रतिक्रियावादी होते जाना है। अगर हम उपरोक्त बातों को स्वीकार करते हैं, तो कुछ रोचक निष्कर्ष निकलते हैं। हिंदी-जनता और उसके हिरावल दस्ते को विचारहीन और प्रतिक्रियावादी बनने से रोकने की मुख्य ज़िम्मेदारी किसकी थी?

देशव्यापी ग्रामीण भारत बंध में उतरे मध्य प्रदेश के आदिवासी, किया केंद्र सरकार का विरोध

- हरसिंग जमरे, भिखला सोलंकी, रतन अलावे*  15 और 16 फरवरी को निमाड के बड़वानी, खरगोन और बुरहानपुर में जागृत आदिवासी दलित संगठन के नेतृत्व में आदिवासी महिला-पुरुषों ग्रामीण भारत बंद में रैली एवं विरोध प्रदर्शन किया । प्रधान मंत्री द्वारा 2014 में फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने का वादा किया गया था, 2016 में किसानों की आय दुगना करने का वादा किया गया था । आज, फसलों का दाम नहीं बढ़ रहा है, लेकिन खेती में खर्च बढ़ता जा रहा है! खाद, बीज और दवाइयों का दाम, तीन-चार गुना बढ़ चुका है! किसानों को लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने के बजाए, खेती को कंपनियों के हवाले करने के लिए 3 काले कृषि कानून लाए गए । 3 काले कानून वापस लेते समय प्रधान मंत्री ने फिर वादा किया था कि फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव की कानूनी गारंटी के लिए कानून बनाएँगे, लेकिन वो भी झूठ निकला! आज जब देश के किसान दिल्ली में आपको अपना वादा याद दिलाने आए है, तब आप उनका रास्ता रोक रहें है, उनके साथ मारपीट कर उन पर आँसू गैस फेंक रहें हैं, उन पर छर्रों से फायरिंग कर रहें है! देश को खिलाने वाला किसान खुद भूखा रहे, क्या यही विकास है?

18થી નાની ઉંમરના 1,15,129 બાળકો શાળા બહાર? વાસ્તવિક આંકડો 15-20 ગણો વધું

- સુખદેવ પટેલ*  16 એપ્રિલથી સમગ્ર ગુજરાતમાં શાળા બહારના 6 થી 19 વર્ષની ઉંમરના બાળકોનો સર્વે શરૂ થયો છે.  જે 26 એપ્રિલ સુધી ચાલશે. જેની જવાબદારી સરકારી શાળાના શિક્ષકોને સોંપવામાં આવી છે. અત્યારે પ્રાથમિક શાળાઓમાં વાર્ષિક પરીક્ષાઓ ચાલી રહી છે. લોકસભાની ચૂંટણીઓના કામ પણ શિક્ષકોને ભાગે કરવાના આવશે. શિક્ષકો કેટલું કરી શક્શે? શિક્ષકો પાસેથી વ્યાજબી રીતે કેટલી અપેક્ષાઓ રાખવી જોઈએ? RTE ની જોગવાઈઓ મુજબ દરેક બાળક શિક્ષણ મેળવી શકે, તે માટે શાળા બહારના બાળકોને સર્વે કરીને શોધી કાઢવાનું ઉમદા કામ સરકાર વિચારે છે, તે આવકારદાયક છે. આવાં ઉત્તમ કામમાં જેમને સીધો લાભ થવાનો છે,  તેવાં હિતધારકોની પ્રતિનિધિ સમિતિ SMC સ્કૂલ મેનેજમેન્ટ કમિટી આ જવાબદારી સારી રીતે ઉપાડી શકે તેમ છે. શિક્ષણ વિભાગ SSA તરફથી આ કામગીરીમાં SMC ની ભાગીદારીનું આયોજન કરીને યોગ્ય માર્ગદર્શિકા તૈયાર કરવી જોઈએ.

How the slogan Jai Bhim gained momentum as movement of popularity and revolution

By Dr Kapilendra Das*  India is an incomprehensible plural country loaded with diversities of religions, castes, cultures, languages, dialects, tribes, societies, costumes, etc. The Indians have good manners/etiquette (decent social conduct, gesture, courtesy, politeness) that build healthy relationships and take them ahead to life. In many parts of India, in many situations, and on formal occasions, it is common for people of India to express and exchange respect, greetings, and salutation for which we people usually use words and phrases like- Namaskar, Namaste, Pranam, Ram Ram, Jai Ram ji, Jai Sriram, Good morning, shubha sakal, Radhe Radhe, Jai Bajarangabali, Jai Gopal, Jai Jai, Supravat, Good night, Shuvaratri, Jai Bhole, Salaam walekam, Walekam salaam, Radhaswami, Namo Buddhaya, Jai Bhim, Hello, and so on.

Laxmanpur Bathe massacre: Perfect example of proto-fascist Brahmanical social order

By Harsh Thakor  The massacre at Laxmanpur-Bathe of Jehanabad in Bihar on the night of 1 December in 1997 was a landmark event with distinguishing features .The genocide rightly shook the conscience of the nation in the 50th year of Indian independence. The scale of the carnage was unparalleled in any caste massacre. It was a perfect manifestation of how in essence the so called neo-liberal state was in essence most autocratic. 

स्वास्थ्य सेवाओं को मजबूत करने के बजाय बीमा आधारित सेवाओं को प्राथमिकता क्यों?

- राष्ट्रीय स्वास्थ्य अधिकार अभियान  वैश्विक स्तर पर “विश्व स्वास्थ्य दिवस” इस साल “हमारा स्वास्थ्य, हमारा अधिकार” की अवधारणा को केन्द्रित कर मनाया जा रहा है। इस उपलक्ष्य में राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर स्वास्थ्य अधिकार संघर्ष को मजबूत करने के लिए, संवैधानिक और नीतिगत रूप में स्वास्थ्य को मौलिक अधिकार बनाने के लिए, स्वास्थ्य के विभिन्न आयामों को लोगों के हक के लिए संगठित करने, जागरूक करने और स्वास्थ्य के मानकों पर कार्य करने हेतु तथा सरकार को जनता के प्रति जिम्मेदार बनाने हेतु जन आंदोलनों के राष्ट्रीय समन्वय ने स्वास्थ्य अधिकार अभियान के माध्यम से जनता के पक्ष को मजबूत करने के लिए राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर स्वास्थ्य अधिकार के मुद्दे पर सक्रिय रूप से कार्य करेगा।

અમદાવાદ પોલિસ કમિશનરનું જાહેરનામું: નાગરિક સ્વાતંત્ર્ય પર તરાપ મારવાની પ્રક્રિયાનો એક ભાગ

- હેમંતકુમાર શાહ  અમદાવાદના પોલિસ કમિશનરનું લોકશાહી વિરોધી વધુ એક પગલું ચૂંટણી ટાણે જોવા મળ્યું છે.   તા. ૧૬-૦૪-૨૦૨૪ના રોજ તેમણે એક જાહેરનામું બહાર પાડીને ફોજદારી કાર્યવાહી અધિનિયમ-૧૯૭૩ની કલમ-૧૪૪ આખા શહેરમાં લાગુ કરી જણાવ્યું છે કે "કોઈ પણ પ્રચારપ્રસાર રેલી દરમ્યાન કોઈ એ કાળા વાવટા ફરકાવવા નહિ કે ઉશ્કેરણીજનક બેનર કે પ્લે કાર્ડ બતાવવું નહિ અથવા કોઈ વિરોધમાં ઉશ્કેરણીજનક સૂત્રોચ્ચાર કરવો નહિ."

न नौकरियाँ, न पर्याप्त मजदूरी, न राहत: अनौपचारिक श्रमिकों के लिए मोदी की विरासत

- प्रतिनिधि द्वारा  भारत में वास्तविक मज़दूरी 2014-15 के बाद से नहीं बढ़ी है, जबकि देश की जीडीपी जरूर बेहतर हुई है। इस दौरान देश की सामाजिक सुरक्षा व्यवस्था भी थम सी गई है। देश के अनौपचारिक श्रमिकों का जीवन बेहद अनिश्चित है, खासकर झारखंड जैसे राज्यों में जहां अनौपचारिक रोजगार लाखों लोगों की आजीविका का मुख्य स्रोत है।

क्या कांग्रेस का घोषणापत्र मुस्लिम लीग की सोच को प्रतिबिंबित करता है?

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