Global Effort to Fight Illegal Drugs Hampered by Violence and Corruption, Says Report

The systematic use of violence and corruption by criminal groups have weakened law enforcement and judicial systems, particularly in poorer countries, warns the International Narcotics Control Board in its annual report issued on Wednesday,

Unless the vicious cycle of corruption and drug trafficking is broken, "international drug control efforts cannot be fully successful," the report said.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is an independent monitoring body for the implementation of the United Nations international drug control conventions. It issues a yearly review of  international efforts to combat trade in controlled substances.

Here are some of the highlights of the 2010 report:

- The United States continues to be the main country of destination for illicit drug shipments. In fact, the United States recorded an increase in the abuse of all drugs except cocaine in 2009. And the number of drug-related deaths increased sharply in the U.S. in 2009.

- In the United States, an estimated 38 million persons (or 15.1 per cent of the population aged 12 or older) had used illicit drugs in 2009, an
increase of 2.5 million persons (or 0.9 per cent of the population aged 12 or older) over the figure for 2008.

- Drug trafficking organizations based in Mexico dominate the illicit
supply of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine at the wholesale level in the U.S. in addition to playing a significant role in the illicit supply of cannabis.

- Vigorous law enforcement measures taken by Mexico in 2009 and 2010 led to disruptions of drug trafficking operations, the relocation of criminal activities and increased competition for shares in the illicit market. Drug trafficking organizations responded by unleashing unprecedented violence, murdering a large number of persons, including law enforcement officials. Since 2006, more than 28,000 people have been killed in drug-related incidents in Mexico.

- Corruption continues to impede efforts to counter drug trafficking in Mexico. Police and other law enforcement units at the state and municipal levels are exposed to threats and offered bribes from drug trafficking organizations.

- The drug problem facing Central America and the Caribbean has been
exacerbated by endemic corruption, widespread poverty and high unemployment. It is estimated that the street value of all drugs transiting through the Caribbean alone exceeds that of the legal economy.

- Haiti was already known to be used as a major transit area for illicit drug shipments before the January 2010 earthquake that killed over 200,000 people and caused widespread devastation. The magnitude of the destruction and the resulting loss of capacity of the Haitian State have given rise to fears that the country may be increasingly used as a trans-shipment area for illicit drugs.

- In 2009, the total area under illicit coca bush cultivation in South America decreased for a second consecutive year, as a result of a significant reduction of that area such as cultivation in Colombia.

- The abuse of cocaine appears to be rising in several countries in the Southern Cone, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.

Click here for the full 2010 International Narcotics Control Board Report.