Drug producers and traffickers are major world polluters.

Environmental Catastrophe

January 2014, Number 05.01

“The impact of drug trafficking and production on civil society in terms of health and criminality has been addressed by political bodies and law enforcement with varying success. A global threat that has not been previously considered, and which is not assessed properly, is the environmental damage caused by drug production and trafficking. This article will try to expose some of the current and short-term consequences. The long-term consequences, mainly mutagenic effects, have yet to be fully understood.

Drug trafficking causes air, water and soil pollution through, among other things, deforestation, extensive use of pesticides and fertilizers, chemical waste and increased energy use. In Colombia and Afghanistan, forests are destroyed to plant coca and opium fields. In the United States, traffickers burn sections of national parks to grow marijuana. Large amounts of chemicals resulting from amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), namely methamphetamine, ecstasy and synthetic drugs, are released into nature. Individuals, and especially law enforcement officers, who are confronted with chemicals each day might suffer...”

Excerpt from Walter Kegö and Aïssata Maïga, “Environmental Catastrophe,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues 5, No. 1, 2014: 28-33.

Walter Kegö is a senior fellow at the Stockholm-based Institute for Security and Development Policy. Previously, he worked at Sweden’s National Drug Policy Coordinator’s Office and led the national drugs unit in the National Criminal Investigation Department. Mr. Kegö’s specialties include initiating and improving cooperation among police, customs and prosecutors in the Baltic Sea region.

Aïssata Maïga works within the Transnational Threats Initiative at the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Stockholm. She has worked for Interpol tackling terrorism, corruption, fraud and money laundering, and narcotics and human trafficking. She holds a master’s degree in economics and languages from Hosei University Japan/Jean Moulin University Lyon III in France and a master’s in business administration from the University of Nanchang, China, and Poitiers, France.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.