With Free Saver Delivery. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Share. Description Bribes, Bullets, and Intimidation is the first book to examine drug trafficking through Central America and the efforts of foreign and domestic law enforcement officials to counter it. Drawing on interviews, legal cases, and an array of Central American sources, Julie Bunck and Michael Fowler track the changing routes, methods, and networks involved, while comparing the evolution and consequences of the drug trade through Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama over a span of more than three decades.
Bunck and Fowler argue that while certain similar factors have been present in each of the Central American states, the distinctions among these countries have been equally important in determining the speed with which extensive drug trafficking has taken hold, the manner in which it has evolved, the amounts of different drugs that have been transshipped, and the effectiveness of antidrug efforts.
Free Returns We hope you are delighted with everything you buy from us. Although in many respects we have disaggregated the Central American societies, we have also focused on the ways in which this activity is regional as well as national. As we shall see, traffickers, routes, and law-enforcement efforts have often involved more than a single bridge state. For an accurate picture of the Central American drug trade, a panorama must be created, in which developments in the different republics can be set next to one another and compared and contrasted.
When approached from that perspective, the challenges of the Central American drug trade have underscored grave deficiencies in countering organized crime in more authoritarian societies and more democratic ones, in civil law and criminal law judicial systems, in postcolonial and long-independent states, and in countries at very different levels of development.
In examining the complex workings of the Central American drug trade, our book has empirical and theoretical dimensions. Getting your hands dirty with the nitty-gritty details. Exploring this variety of transnational crime in this region of a globalized world seemed to us to invite an interdisciplinary approach. We are political scientists, but we have also drawn on the disciplines of law, history, geography, economics, and criminal justice. Furthermore, in conducting our fieldwork, we found it necessary to live for a period in each of the five countries, to become closely familiar with the geography, culture, institutions, and procedures of each society; to develop networks of sources; and to begin to ferret out information.
We then tried to assemble for scholarly analysis the type of information that, if assembled at all, had heretofore been largely restricted to antidrug and intelligence services.
Our work also has a theoretical dimension in seeking to go beyond laying out facts to pose conceptual questions about the role of bridge states in the international drug trade and to develop a framework to better understand how states have tried to contend with this aspect of transnational crime. From this standpoint this volume continues our past work on the state. In the mids we collaborated on our first book exploring the role of state sovereignty in international relations.
When the Central American drug trade is viewed through an international relations lens, certain preliminary points stand out. Academics have long agreed that relations between states should no longer be the sole focus of scholarly attention in this field. Furthermore, it is no longer self-evident, as it may once have seemed to be, that states are automatically the chief actors in the international drama with other entities present on the stage but playing bit parts.
Drug organizations amount to transnational actors that take on far more than minor roles in these bridge states. Indeed, they contend with, challenge, and sometimes overwhelm bridge-state institutions. This book thus aims to further our understanding of the relationships between states and one important class of nonstate actors. A study of bridge states is also interesting for students of international relations, because the Central American drug trade accelerated just in the period when the cold war era was succeeded by one marked by expanded trade, diminished militaries, enhanced regional integration, and increased globalization.
We wondered how these broader phenomena would affect drug trafficking. While the drug trade via Central America has certainly spotlighted the difficulties of mounting an effective multilateral campaign against agile, wealthy, and opportunistic nonstate actors, we believed that in such an era of rapid change, it was particularly important to relate drug smuggling through the Central American bridge states to broader international trends.
As the issues of the post—cold war world have become more sharply defined, we became especially interested in another overlooked and underexplored aspect of the clandestine side of globalization: how exactly have governments tried to contend with the illicit dimensions of the global economy? Where in the middle decades of the last century scholars often portrayed states as omnicompetent, if not omnipotent, entities, and international relations was sometimes portrayed in terms that might be likened to leaders moving pieces on a diplomatic-military chessboard, scholarship toward the end of the cold war and throughout the post—cold war era has increasingly focused on the deficiencies and incapacities of states.
Indeed, in this age many governments have been unable to discharge even their most basic functions: maintaining law and order, promoting a sound economy, defending territory from foreign depredations, and operating a fair and effective legal system. Increasingly, governments purport to regulate all kinds of activity that they have no real ability to oversee, and in many societies the notion that the state has a legal monopoly on violence seems like a curious abstraction largely irrelevant to daily life.
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Again, to us these points seemed directly relevant to bridge-state drug trafficking. Such observations brought us, in turn, to what has been called the most prominent theoretical debate at the close of the twentieth century and outset of the twenty-first: to what extent are states retreating in light of increasingly global markets and increasingly pervasive transnational actors, some of them quite powerful?
When confronted with the illicit global economy, states do not abandon the field so much as they retreat, persist, and reassert themselves in different ways. We wondered if this would accurately describe the manner in which Central American bridge states were responding to the transshipment of large quantities of drugs.
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In an attempt to explore these more theoretical considerations, while getting our hands dirty with the nitty-gritty details of the subject, we identified a handful of questions regarding bridge-state drug trafficking that have yet to be satisfactorily answered:. To what extent have early trends, set in the s and before, carried over to the s and the twenty-first century? Which methods have traffickers used, and what routes to market have they blazed?
Which Colombian and Mexican cartels have been most active in which countries? What might be concluded of the native drug-trafficking organizations within the bridge states? How have they operated? Have antidrug successes had lasting positive consequences, or have they turned out to be largely ephemeral triumphs?
Have actions matched rhetoric or not? What measures have been adopted to respond to government trafficking?
Bribes, Bullets, and Intimidation Drug Trafficking and the Law in Central America
How enthusiastically and how effectively have policies been implemented? How successful have smuggling organizations been in evading or co-opting authorities? What has it meant for people, whether nationals or foreigners, traffickers or law-abiding citizens, politicians, police officers, judges, prison wardens, or other officials? Our focus on the Central American bridge states steers our contribution to the now voluminous illegal drug literature away from South American production and North American and European dealing and consumption.
However, by focusing on trafficking, our work may shed light on why officials have so often been disappointed by the long-term results of interdiction strategies. Although over the years impressive seizure and arrest totals have accumulated, not enough drugs have been intercepted to raise prices so high as to discourage drug use. Prior studies of drug smuggling and interdiction have largely focused on police efforts at the borders of market states.
We look instead to the bridge states and show that here interdiction of large percentages of the drugs in transit has failed to occur. However, the subsequent policy issue of just how many government resources ought to be devoted to trying to curtail supply as opposed to attempting to reduce demand is beyond the purview of this study. We have also chosen not to address the related question of whether states should respond to drug abuse and violence by decriminalizing or legalizing drugs. While our work may provide grist for that mill, the topic has already been well canvassed, with basic arguments readily accessible.
Furthermore, until quite recently such potentially dramatic policy changes have had little support within our area of focus—Latin America and particularly Central America. That scholars have seldom addressed even the quite fundamental issues regarding bridge-state trafficking that we have sought to explore is attributable, in part, to the fact that so much of the trade occurs outside of public view.
Transnational criminal organizations have gone to considerable lengths to keep activities secret, attempting to camouflage their routes, personnel, and methods, including the manner in which they have corrupted authorities to ensure the smooth flow of drugs to market. The secrecy that cloaks this subject led many to doubt whether our research project was viable.
Certainly, many standard social science tools commonly used to investigate new topics have strictly limited applicability to the drug trade. For instance, apart from a small handful of quite useful studies that have questioned imprisoned traffickers, survey research has revealed little about this brand of transnational criminal activity. Although polling can indicate something about public perceptions of drug corruption, the illicit nature of the subject and consequent efforts to cover up activities may well distort mass opinion. As for statistical analyses, for decades law-enforcement officials have compiled data on drug production and seizures, drug-related arrests, and the confiscation of drug-tainted assets.
While drawing on this, we recognize its limitations, various aspects of which have been well documented. Statistics can illuminate certain aspects of bridge-state trafficking, but not others. And, although some figures appear to be reasonably reliable—advanced only after data has been carefully collected, processed, and cross-checked—others are imprecise or even suspect.
The validity of drug statistics depends on honest, thorough, and conscientious professionals reporting numbers that are compiled with logical and consistent methodologies across different countries for a number of consecutive years. Unfortunately, these attributes have rarely been evident.
Bribes, Bullets, and Intimidation : Drug Trafficking and the Law in Central America
On inspection, certain statistics regarding drugs in Central America turned out to be simply rough estimates. Government data has sometimes been collected and advanced without methodological rigor. The biases of those charged with assembling the facts may have affected some figures, and political agendas may have intervened in the collecting or publicizing of some drug data.
Certainly, those reporting figures have often had a stake in inflating or deflating particular numbers, either to gain personal promotions or to enhance the flow of resources from those funding antidrug activities. In any event, many statistics have been publicized without clear explanation, leading to ambiguities and misunderstandings.
Moreover, just what many commonly tracked statistics demonstrate can be arguable. For example, that more traffickers are arrested and more drugs interdicted may indicate improving law enforcement, larger amounts of drugs being shipped to market, or some combination. Thus, some drug statistics are flawed, and many are open to varying interpretations. More broadly, a recurrent problem in investigating Central American drug trafficking concerns finding reliable sources to depend on, whether statistical or otherwise.
Across the region officials have failed to keep sufficiently detailed records on drug cases. In some countries prison and court records have been ambiguous, fragmentary, inaccurate, or missing. Librarians in national libraries have sometimes neglected even to keep legal statutes and codes properly updated. Guatemala has become one of the larger drug smuggling countries in Latin America precisely because drug cartels in neighboring states have offered their support.
Cartels in Colombia have sent upwards of 48 tons worth of cocaine to Guatemala and the cartels have shared techniques for moving cocaine unnoticed, such as mixing cocaine with fruit pulp. This relationship has encompassed most major drugs, including the selling of raw opium gum and, eventually, the processed poppy, which carries a higher price per kilo for Guatemalan growers. Within Guatemala, the domestic police has experienced difficulty combating the growing and selling of drugs and combating the inefficiency and corruption in the police force.
In the s, there was a low police officer to citizen ratio and the state poorly trained police officers and offered low wages, which contributed to low morale. Geography in Guatemala has created both an ideal climate for growing drugs and divided regions for smuggling drugs. The vast amounts of mountains and forests that divide the country make governing and policing more difficult. Through the support of growers in Belize, people in Guatemala were able to acquire seeds and connections to start growing and exporting their product to Mexico, while avoiding the more restrictive laws and effort by the government in Belize.