Since the heyday of the Griselda Blanco and Pablo Escobar, the cocaine trade has remained pretty prominently in the limelight. The Drug Enforcement Agency and the fat cats selling it on a large scale on the business side of things are actually immune to most of the danger involved in the trade itself in the present day. It may seem like a peculiar comment that the DEA specifically is immune to most of the danger, but when considering what the coca farmers all the way up to petty street dealers risk every day to participate in the trade it is the sad truth.
The biggest dealers in the world are not gangsters, or at least ostensibly are not gangsters. They are business entrepreneurs, like Wall Street stock brokers or CEOs they remain in the shadows of their business trade, reaping tremendous benefits each and every day while simultaneously keeping their boots clean and free from the mud of the trenches. Unlike in the marijuana trade where the grower and kingpin could be the very same person, in the cocaine trade the grower makes little to nothing for their painstakingly difficult efforts.
Business functions similarly across all avenues, and the most determinant factor remains supply and demand regardless of the specific product being sold to the consumer. In the marijuana trade, a grower has the ability to control the specific strand of cannabis, the quality, the distribution, and business logistics themselves. There are two main reasons this seems to function in the marijuana trade and not the cocaine trade. These reasons are the inherent violence involved within the cocaine trade itself and the climate and legal leeway necessary to produce large amounts of coca plants.
There are a tremendous amount of marijuana grow operations in the United States, yet very few if any coca plant operations conducted domestically. This is because even if the climate factor is set aside, the land, resources, and protection necessary to process a coca plant into cocaine is unreasonable to put together within the United States. It is simply too dangerous, and on many fronts logistically impossible. This results in the cocaine trade consisting of businessman running operations from coca growing and processing operations beginning in places like Peru and Columbia and ending up in the United States with their finished product.
Because specific growers in places such as Peru for example do not the ability to process the coca plants into cocaine on a large scale and do not have access to the distribution chains of the wealthy businesspeople globally profiting off the products that they grow, they make almost no many for their efforts whatsoever. This leads to other discussions involving the self-empowerment of the grower, but where does the importance truly lie? The DEA profits off the fat cats who make the most money through distribution, leaving the growers, like most indigenous peoples, at the mercy of those who will give them even the smallest of handouts from the civilized world in order to survive. Governments keep the fat cats immune from most danger and the DEA, whether an individual agent believes this or not, cannot sustain their business model without the business ripping the poor farmers off to hedge their profit margins. It is also no different than how the banks function in the United States creating an imaginary middle class to make it seem like it isn’t just a few powerful entities reaping all the benefits from those who do not have a chance at success.
Written by Michael Blain