Bribes, Bullets, and Intimidation

Bribes, Bullets, and Intimidation: Drug Trafficking and the Law in Central America

JULIE MARIE BUNCK
MICHAEL ROSS FOWLER
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 448
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/j.ctt7v5pv
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  • Book Info
    Bribes, Bullets, and Intimidation
    Book 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-271-05555-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
    Julie Bunck and Michael Fowler
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Introduction: Exploring Central American Drug Trafficking
    (pp. 1-14)

    This book explores one distinctly understudied aspect of the international drug trade: the experiences of “bridge countries,” that is, states that may neither consume nor produce sizable amounts of illegal drugs but that lie on favored paths carved out between centers of production and key consumer markets. In the 1980s the Central American republics became critically important to the international drug trade and have remained so ever since, with illegal drugs continually transiting en route to North American, European, and various emerging markets. Central America is particularly well suited for one of the first comparative studies of bridgestate trafficking, because...

  7. 1 Central America and the International Trade in Drugs
    (pp. 15-69)

    As drug exports from South America initially gathered momentum in the late 1970s, criminal syndicates favored air and maritime routes through the Caribbean, including transshipment via the Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, and Jamaica. In the early 1980s, however, responding to bloody struggles among cocaine traffickers contesting market shares, U.S. government initiatives in south Florida aimed to curtail air and sea drug imports.¹ At this time, various Caribbean governments, encouraged and pressured by the U.S. government and supported by the U.S. Coast Guard and the DEA, stepped up interdiction. U.S. officials also began to track air traffic headed toward Florida more thoroughly,...

  8. 2 Belize
    (pp. 70-129)

    British novelist Aldous Huxley wrote what became perhaps the single most oft-quoted statement about Belize, formerly British Honduras: “If the world had any ends, British Honduras would certainly be one of them. It is not on the way from anywhere to anywhere else. It has no strategic value. It is all but uninhabited.” Huxley’s subsequent observation has been much less widely publicized: “and when Prohibition is abolished, the last of its profitable enterprises—the re-export of alcohol by rum-runners, who use Belize as their base of operations—will have gone the way of its commerce in logwood, mahogany and chicle.”¹...

  9. 3 Costa Rica
    (pp. 130-189)

    For some years Costa Rica represented the paradigmatic Central American state: the first, for instance, to grow coffee and bananas with commercial success. Over time, however, the country has proceeded down political and economic paths unusual for the region. Modern Costa Rica differs markedly from its Central American neighbors, and drug-trafficking organizations and law-enforcement agencies have both had to operate in a distinctive environment. Comparing the evolution of the drug trade in Costa Rica with that in Belize underscores the flexibility of the many transnational criminals trafficking drugs in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. They could successfully smuggle...

  10. 4 Guatemala
    (pp. 190-252)

    Marked by deep and wrenching divisions from the Spanish conquest forward, Guatemala has differed strikingly from its Central American counterparts, postcolonial Belize and newly developed Costa Rica, with their relatively peaceful histories and solidly democratic regimes. The states of Central America have had certain distinctive economic emphases as well. Traditionally, the Honduran economy exported bananas, and the Belizean economy, mahogany and the logwood used to dye textiles. Panama long capitalized on its location as a commercial crossroads. As in Costa Rica, many Guatemalan elites, usually of European ancestry, made their fortunes in coffee. While abuses of agricultural workers occurred across...

  11. 5 Honduras
    (pp. 253-308)

    In certain respects Honduras has long typified Central America, with personalistic political leaders—some dictatorial politicians and some military strongmen—and an economy heavily dependent on bananas and other agricultural exports subject to the vicissitudes of international commodity markets. Yet in many other respects Honduras has developed quite a distinct profile. Traditionally, Honduran political elites were not as rapacious as were many of those in neighboring countries.¹ Furthermore, the Honduran population contains not only a highly influential Jewish minority, as Panama’s does, but the largest percentage of inhabitants of Arab descent in all of Latin America. In 1843 Palestinians began...

  12. 6 Panama
    (pp. 309-376)

    For all of the trafficking elsewhere in Central America, Panamanians certainly might claim to live in the most important transshipment location for criminal groups moving drugs to North American and European markets. Yet, once again, the profile of Panamanian society differs in interesting respects from those of its neighbors. An economist would immediately note that Panama’s annual growth rate has routinely led, and sometimes far outpaced, those of the other countries in the region.¹ A sociologist might add that with the exception of a handful of families at the pinnacle of society, social hierarchies have tended to be less rigid...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 377-384)

    The time has come for a summing up. In exploring the trade in drugs in Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama, the preceding chapters have aimed to answer the fundamental questions we initially posed concerning drug trafficking and the law in Central America. What conclusions might be drawn, then, from the record of the ways that drug organizations and law enforcement have contended with one another in these bridge states? Most basically, the Central American states have proven to be remarkably effective places in which to transship drugs from South American producers to North American and European consumers. Their...

  14. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 385-396)
  15. INDEX OF CASES
    (pp. 397-402)
  16. INDEX OF NAMES
    (pp. 403-412)
  17. GENERAL INDEX
    (pp. 413-431)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 432-432)