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Consumer Demand Driving Drug Violence in the UK

While cocaine is easily considered a dangerous drug in most circles, it is apparently now a socially acceptable part of a night out in the United Kingdom. An article in The Guardian told of a House of Commons report that Britons are snorting some 230 tons of cocaine a year.

The House Affairs Select Committee has also accused law enforcement agencies of intercepting too few shipments and arresting too few people, driving the price of the class A drug to a low $4 per line and helping to support its mainstream acceptance.

Before the drug ever reaches the nightlife in the U.K., it is produced amidst the violence in Latin America. It is here that the coca leaf is grown, turned into paste and powder and then trafficked.

In Mexico last week, authorities found the dismembered body of journalist, Rodolfo Rincon Taracena, who disappeared in 2007. Taracena’s murder was prompted by his articles on the drug trade.

In Guatemala, the national police chief, Baltazar Gonzalez, and anti-drug czar, Nelly Bonilla, were detained in a stolen cocaine case that led to the deaths of five police agents. The agents were killed while trying to steal a stash from members of the Zetas, a group of hit men linked to Mexico’s powerful Gulf cartel.

News from the United States International Narcotics Control strategy report showed that traffickers were annually sending $8 billion to $25 billion from the United States, leading to the expansion of the production in Bolivia and the identification of new routes through Venezuela.

The plain truth that the U.S. and much of Europe continue to deny is that as long as they continue to drive demand, the production and violence will also continue. Less focus on the producers and more focus on consumers may help make a dent in this market.

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