Panama

The director of the Tax and Customs enforcement agency in Colombia stated that the profit margin for criminals selling counterfeit drugs is between 500 to 1,000 percent. For example, a fake Viagra pill that costs $1 to manufacture can be sold for $5 to $10.

Intelligence analysts state that cost of the counterfeit drugs being sold in Colombia was manufactured in Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.

From 2012 to the middle of 2013, the various agencies of the criminal justice system in Colombia seized over 5 million fake and contraband drugs. These medicines included drugs past its expiration date, drugs that were falsely labeled, and other drugs filled with flour or cement.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that 30 percent of the drugs sold across Latin America are counterfeits.

Source:  Natalie Southwick, “Colombia Pharmaceutical Trafficking ‘Has 1,000% Profits Margins’,” Insight Crime, October 28, 2013.

There are over 1,500 islands around the coast of Panama in Central America. Drug traffickers utilize these islands in order to transport cocaine produced in South America. Traffickers bury the drugs on various islands and use it as a type of storage and transport point on its way towards the United States.

According to media reports, drug mules who bury the drugs and pass it along make up to $5,000 for each trip that the make to the islands to transport the drugs. The amount they make per trip is 10 times more than the amount that they would make working at a village shop in Panama.

(More under the table jobs.)

Source:  Irene Larraz, “Narco-Islands: Panama’s Drug Trafficking Paradise,” InSight Crime, September 30, 2013.

A report released by the Collective Security Analysis for Democracy stated that there were 2.8 million unregistered firearms in Central America, and an additional 15 million unregistered guns in Mexico.

According to the study, the majority of these guns are used by organized crime gangs and drug trafficking cartels to carry out their illicit activities.

The Central America Region has the world’s highest gun-homicide rate, with 41 people being killed by guns per 10,000 people.

According to statistics released by criminal justice programs, Honduras has a gun-homicide rate of 85.5 people per 10,000, followed by El Salvador with 69.2 homicides, Guatemala with 38.5, Mexico with 22.7, Panama with 18, and Costa Rica with 11.3 gun-related homicides.

The World Health Organization states that 5 homicides per 10,000 is considered normal, with over 10 homicides per 10,000 being an “epidemic”.

The unregistered guns in the region comes from four main sources. The first source is through straw buyers who purchase firearms on behalf of the drug cartels. The second source is by purchasing guns from corrupt military soldiers in Guatemala and Honduras. The third source is finding left over supplies from the civil wars that took place in Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador in the 1980s. And the last source of unregistered firearms is through the crafting of home-made weapons known as chimbas. The guns are handcrafted and uses a welded pipe and can fire a single shotgun cartridge.

(Prices of Ak-47s and other firearms on the black market.)

Source:  Sergio Ramos, “Weapons trafficking increases in Central America, Mexico,” Infosurhoy, May 30, 2013.

More arms trafficking data.