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Cocaine Cartels

  • By: Enrique S. Pumar
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

Technically, a cartel is a group of producers that collude to shrink the volume of a commodity, thereby increasing the price of the commodity they produce. Although the term cocaine cartels is widely used, it is likely a misnomer. Especially in more recent years, cocaine cartels are not as organized as popular opinion believes them to be; therefore, it is a stretch to argue that cocaine producers “collude.” The more accurate term to describe these organizations is drug trafficking organization or DTO; but the term cartels is used because of its common usage.

Social Organization of Cocaine Cartels

Cocaine cartels began to operate in the 1970s as a result of economies of scale in the drug trade. Cartels usually purchase coca grown in isolated regions of Bolivia, ...

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