The history of illegal drug trade between the United States, Mexico, and South America is a long and complex one that spans several decades. The trade in illegal drugs between these regions dates back to the early 20th century, when opium and other drugs were smuggled into the United States from Mexico and South America. However, the illegal drug trade between these regions truly took off in the 1970s, when the demand for drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin began to rise in the United States.
Mexico has been a major player in the illegal drug trade for decades. Mexican drug traffickers have been involved in the production, transportation and distribution of illegal drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines, to the United States. According to the US Department of Justice, Mexican criminal organizations are responsible for the majority of the illicit drugs that enter the US. They have been known to use various methods of transportation including cars, boats, trains, and even tunnels to smuggle drugs into the US.
South America, particularly Colombia, also became major producers and suppliers of these drugs to the United States. The Colombian cartels controlled a large portion of the drug trade, producing and exporting large quantities of cocaine and other drugs to the United States through various smuggling routes. The United States government, under the Reagan administration, initiated a number of initiatives, such as the War on Drugs in the 1980s, to try to curb the flow of illegal drugs into the country, but these efforts had limited success.
In the 1990s, the illegal drug trade shifted towards Mexico, as Colombian cartels were dismantled, and Mexican criminal organizations grew in power and influence. The Mexican criminal organizations have become powerful transnational criminal organizations, controlling much of the illegal drug trade and other criminal activities in the region.
The illegal drug trade between these regions continues to be a major problem to this day, with Mexico and South America still being major producers and suppliers of illegal drugs to the United States. Despite various efforts by the US government to curb the flow of illegal drugs, such as the Merida Initiative, a partnership between the US and Mexico aimed at combatting drug trafficking and organized crime, the illegal drug trade continues to be a major problem. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the value of the global illicit drug market was estimated to be around $435 billion in 2019.
- US Department of Justice. (n.d.). Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/drug-enforcement/mexican-drug-trafficking-organizations
- The White House. (1982). Remarks on Signing the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. Retrieved from https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/remarks-signing-the-anti-drug-abuse-act-1986
- The Merida Initiative. (n.d.). About the Merida Initiative. Retrieved from https://www.state.gov/the-merida-initiative/
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2019). World Drug Report 2019. Retrieved from https://www.unodc.org/wdr2019/prelaunch/WDR19_Booklet_1_EXSUM.pdf