El Chapo Guzman and Pablo Escobar are the two biggest drug dealers of their generation. The latter ran an elaborate drug trafficking network from the 1970s to the early 90s in Colombia and supplied approximately 80 percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States at the time. This coincides with figures released by the DEA in 2013 detailing how much of the drugs market El Chapo Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel controlled, and it was “80 percent of the heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine [markets] — with a street value of $3 billion.” This is as reported by Business Insider.
However, in the 1970s, when Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel were the main traffickers, drug trafficking was not a serious offense in some countries, and in cases where it was, there was no strict enforcement by the authorities. Moreover, surveillance technology along the U.S. border was not as advanced as today’s. As a result, Escobar and his cartel were able to bring in tons of cocaine each month into the United States. Violence in the trade during the early 70s was also non-existent. This is according to a statement by Jorge Ochoa, a former member of the Medellin Cartel during an interview. The following is the revelation as reported by PBS.
“It has always been lucrative. But back then, there was no kind of violence in the business or any kind of problem. When it got big is when the problems began. When it got big, the problems began, and a lot of people got involved… “
So lax were international drug trafficking laws that the Medellin cartel had an island as a transit point for drugs flown into the United States. The island was owned by Carlos Lehder who organized shipments to the United States via low flying planes. There were also few cocaine processing labs with the most famous being Tranquilandia.
The following is the description of the lab as revealed by Ochoa.
“Lots of people worked there… Everybody who wanted to buy a kilo or who had a kilo or who wanted to bring it from Bolivia, or from Ecuador–they would bring it to Tranquilandia and process it there… But it wasn’t like Tranquilandia had an owner. Everybody who wanted something would have access to this supermarket.”
With law enforcement being lax, the main mode of trafficking drugs into the Unites States was by planes, at least for the Medellin cartel. However, in El Chapo’s time, which is in the contemporary, lots of ingenious ways of trafficking drugs into the United States had to be invented because the U.S. government had invested heavily in security along its borders. The following is an excerpt of a report on the means used by the Sinaloa Cartel as reported by the New York Times.
“Working with Colombian suppliers, cartel operatives moved cocaine into Mexico in small private aircraft and in baggage smuggled on commercial flights and eventually on their own 747s, which they could load with as much as 13 tons of cocaine. They used container ships and fishing vessels and go-fast boats and submarines — crude semi-submersibles at first, then fully submersible subs, conceived by engineers and constructed under the canopy of the Amazon, then floated downriver in pieces and assembled at the coastline.”
The submarines are said to cost close to a million dollars, and if the authorities attempt to close in, they have a system that disposes of the cargo letting it sink to the bottom. Catapults are apparently also used by El Chapo Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel to throw bales of marijuana across the Mexican – American border.
[AP Photo/Marco Ugarte]