For the last forty years, Colombia has produced some of the most brutally efficient cocaine cartels in the world. Colombian smugglers with humble beginnings in marijuana trafficking are now responsible for the vast majority of cocaine shipped into the United States and many other countries. In fact, these cartels have grown so wealthy and powerful that they were recently found to possess their own submarines for clandestine shipping operations.
Although these cartels originated in Colombia, they exacerbate drug problems all over the world. This is especially true for the United States – the world foremost consumer of illicit drugs. Because so much of the cocaine in America comes from Colombia, a better understanding of these cartels may be crucial for drug addiction prevention in our homeland. The following are the three most powerful cocaine operations to have operated in Colombia.
The Medellin Cartel
Headed by the infamous Pablo Escobar, the Medellin Cartel at one point controlled eighty percent of the cocaine shipments to Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the United States. Escobar rose to such power by cooperating with Communist guerrillas throughout South America, who helped smuggle his product across borders and through law enforcement barriers. This group is renowned for its brutality, as Medellin associates have frequently killed politicians, police officers, and even bystanders in pursuit of its goals.
Though many people associate Colombia with coca plants, the Medlin cartel actually dealt mainly in cocaine grown in Peru, Bolivia, and other nearby countries. The Medellins then processed the plants into cocaine in their Colombian facilities and shipped the finished product to distribution centers on both the east and west coasts of the United States. Overall, the Medellin cartel made hundreds of billions of dollars before being destroyed by joint law enforcement efforts between the United States and Colombia.
The Cali Cartel
Founded by Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez, the Cali Cartel was the Medellins' main rival in the South American cocaine trade. This group originally financed its drug smuggling through kidnapping, but it eventually began investing its drug money in legitimate operations. In order to take down their rivals, the Calis supplied United States and Colombia law enforcement agents with information about Pablo Escobar and other Medellin officials.
The Calis were also well-known for their use of modern technology and their manipulation of American legal systems. They employed powerful lawyers to dodge the efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and they developed methods of communication that were unsusceptible to wiretapping and other surveillance methods. Though the leaders of the Cali cartel are currently serving time, many people believe they are still running their fragmented cocaine operations from prison.
The Norte del Valle Cartel
After the dissolution of the Medellin and Cali operations, the Norte del Valle Cartel rose to power. Led by Diego Montoya, this group smuggles well over one million pounds of cocaine into Mexico each year. Like many illicit drugs, the cocaine that passes through Mexico is typically distributed throughout the United States.
Montoya follows Escobar's example as he cooperates with terrorist groups throughout the South American continent. These militants violently protect the Norte del Valle Cartel, making it extremely difficult for Colombian law enforcement to put a stop to the smuggling operations.
These cartels and others have helped to make cocaine addiction common throughout the United States. Thankfully, there are drug rehab clinics all over the country where addicts make successful, long-term recoveries. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction, use the links below for a free consultation. Take the first steps on the road to recovery with a treatment program from one of the most successful rehabilitation centers in the country.