Thursday, February 2, 2012

Collected maps of suspect trafficking

Here, we share our collection of maps, produced by the U.S. Southern Command's Joint Interagency Task Force-South, showing the trajectories of boats and planes suspected of trafficking drugs toward the United States from South America.

Image quality varies here: we take what we can get. The maps we have obtained over the years depict trafficking patterns in 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2011.

The first set of maps shows the tracks of boats believed to be carrying drugs or other illegal cargo. A few changes over the years are notable:

  • It is increasingly rare to see boats attempting to traverse the Caribbean. Fewer landings occur in Jamaica or the island of Hispaniola than did in the mid-2000s.
  • Boats no longer attempt to reach Mexico in a single journey. In 2005, it was common for long-haul vessels to pass by the Galápagos Islands en route to Mexico's Pacific coast, or to go straight from Colombia to the Yucatán Peninsula. Today, few boats try to do that.
  • Instead, boats stop overwhelmingly in Central America first. Boats leaving Colombia prefer to make a "short hop" to Panama and Costa Rica before presumably moving on elsewhere up the coast or over land. Some boats exiting Colombia go all the way to Honduras's Caribbean coast as well. Boats leaving Ecuador appear to head to Guatemala's Pacific coast.
  • Boats almost entirely originate in Colombia and Ecuador. That has changed little over the years, though more volume today appears to leave Ecuador, and Colombia's Pacific coast, than before.
  • Cuba is very rarely used as a destination for trafficking boats.

Source

Source

Source

Source

The second set of maps shows the tracks of aircraft, which Southern Command estimates are used to carry perhaps 20 percent of drugs entering the United States. Here, the change in patterns is stark:

  • Flights no longer originate in Colombia, an indication that "air bridge denial" efforts have brought results.
  • Instead, since at least 2007, the vast majority of flights have originated in Venezuela's state of Apure, across the border from Arauca, Colombia.
  • Landings in Haiti and the Dominican Republic have shrunk significantly. Now, most flights from South America appear to be landing in Honduras's Mosquitia region. The map for the first half of 2011 shows a virtual "air highway" between Apure, Venezuela and Colón/Gracias a Dios/Olancho, Honduras.

Source

Source

Source

Source

2005 maps are from a Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff report (PDF). 2007 maps are from a presentation by the White House "Drug Czar." 2010 slides are from a Southern Command presentation available online (PDF). 2011 slides are photos taken by Noel Maurer, a blogger covering Latin America.

If you have other, better maps like these and you're able to share them, let us know at info@justf.org.