Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield — until last year ambassador to Bogota — said at the Annual International Conference for Drug control in Cancun, Mexico, on Thursday that drug trafficking organizations have in recent decades become aligned with political and ideological movements, citing the followers of Osama bin Laden and the FARC as examples.
In Colombia, the FARC benefit from their age and their strength, controlling parts of the jungle where cocaine laboratories can operate clandestinely. They are also better positioned to handle exit routes to the Mexican cartels, meaning that drug lords who are not associated with the guerrilla group often have to collaborate with them when their own lines are disrupted by authorities, in order to complete shipments to Mexico.
In January 2010 a top U.S. DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] director stated that Colombian guerrillas have entered into an “unholy alliance” with Islamic extremists, such as Al Qaeda, who are helping the leftist rebels smuggle cocaine through Africa on its way to European markets.
The FARC and the Taliban insurgencies don’t exist solely for drug trafficking but derive a large proportion of their funding from it, leading Brownfield to claim that drug trafficking can no longer be considered separate from their political and ideological goals.