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Coca plants in Colombia

Coco Crash Could Reshape Cocaine Trade

This past week, we ran across an interesting New York Times article that offered a detailed look into the damage that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused to cocaine trafficking. In fact because of quarantines, interruptions and border lockdowns, the situation has now been dubbed the great coca crash of 2020.


Coca, of course, is in reference to the source plant of cocaine; rooted deep in South America. New York Times writer Anthony Faiola broke down the situation in comparison to any business supply chain. In this instance, there has been a massive global disruption in tending to coco and getting it out of countries like Colombia.


“The coca economy has collapsed,” Faiola writes. “For South American coca farmers, the pandemic has, at least temporarily, caused a dive in prices that analysts say could alter the landscape of the illicit drug trade for years to come.”


This, in turn, has greatly reduced cocaine’s availability in major U.S. cities. And based on the theory of supply and demand, the scarcity of the product has now drastically increased its street price.


Faiola went on to explain that shipments smuggled into the U.S. borders are coming at a drastically lower rate. To try and compensate, cartels are hoping to bring in larger quantities on a much less frequent basis.


And interestingly (as mentioned above), the model could most certainly reshape the illegal narcotics industry. Just like we’re seeing with any business surviving through COVID, the “mom and pop” organizations are declaring bankruptcy and only the largest corporations are positioned to survive. According to Faiola, the drug market could see the same consequence; with smaller cartels being phased out of the trade.


Former chief of international operations for the DEA, Michael S. Vigil, spoke with Faiola about the situation.


“This will change the landscape of these cartels,” Vigil explained. “The only ones that may survive are the supersized cartels. They’ll completely obliterate the smaller ones that don’t have the infrastructure or revenue streams to survive the supply chain disruption we’re seeing now.”


So the question becomes, what does this mean for people addicted to hard drugs within the U.S.? It is anticipated that prices will continue to rise, breaking more bank accounts and wreaking more economic havoc. There is also a risk that with less coco, the drugs users may receive could now be laced with cheaper substitute ingredients. This could have very dangerous consequences as well and potentially lead to more fatal overdoses.


We think this is an important story that deserves to be followed. We’ll make sure to keep our blogs updated on the situation. And remember, if anyone you know or care about is struggling with a narcotics addiction; please reach out for help.