By Paul Rexton Kan
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Extra info for Drugs and Contemporary Warfare
Additionally, in combination with the balloon effect, the hydra-effect is at work in the cocaine trade as well. Although the United States has the largest market for cocaine, Europe’s demand for cocaine is rising. As a result, the trafficking routes have expanded to countries in West Africa, including Cape Verde, Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, and Liberia, that have shaky DRUGGING THE BATTLEFIELD 33 governance structures. They are being used as transshipment points, for there is a ready reservoir of people willing to earn money from the drug trade.
Many of these areas lie in countries of conflict, such as Myanmar, Colombia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, or border these countries such as Laos, Thailand, and Tajikistan. Heroin is processed from morphine, which is a naturally occurring substance extracted from seedpods of poppy plants. 34 At this stage of production, rurally based violent groups who operate near these plantations have “taxed” the farmers for protection. Combatants have also made up for any shortages in labor necessary to extract the gum.
A warring group does not require a monopoly over all aspects of a particular narcotic; it merely needs to participate in one of the nodes or a linkage between nodes that make up a drug-trafficking network. As law enforcement succeeded in breaking down drug cartels and organized criminal syndicates, drug trafficking evolved from hierarchical organizations based on kinship, ethnicity, common experience, and tradition to networked enterprises with a flattened lateral structure based on ad hoc arrangements with other groups.