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Can cocaine production in Colombia be linked to environmental crime?: A case study into the effect of EU legislation on the trade

This case study highlights the interrelationship between cocaine production, a drug-related criminal activity and environmental pollution and degradation, activities that are considered to be environmental crimes in many parts of the world today. To a lesser extent, this case study also explores the links between cocaine trafficking and organised crime groups, such as the militias in Colombia. There, cocaine production is not just an ordinary illicit activity, it is also a means used by the militias to secure territory, power, finances and weaponry.

The European Union represents the second largest market in the world for cocaine. It also exports 20% of the world’s chemical precursors, with Germany as the largest European producer with 5.7% share of the global sales. Chemical precursors such as potassium permanganate, an essential ingredient in cocaine production, are highly monitored yet Colombia seized 80% of the global seizure of illicit potassium permanganate for the period of 2007-2012. Criminals have adopted various diversion methods to make up for their losses from tighter controls on chemical precursors trafficking. There is legislation in place that monitor the trade of chemical precursors within and outside the borders of the EU. The case study seeks to examine if the said legislation has been effective in preventing the illicit use of chemical precursors in cocaine production in Colombia and as a consequence help to prevent further environmental pollution and degradation.