ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — All of the major cartels are involved in cocaine smuggling, with profit margins that make the risk worthwhile.
In the interior of Colombia, it takes about 2 tons of coca leaves to make a kilogram of cocaine that sells for between $2,000 and $3,000.
By the time it gets to Mexico, that kilogram is worth from $10,000 to $14,000, depending upon how close to the U.S. border the smugglers are able to deliver it.
The closer to the border the higher the value.
Once in the United States a kilogram is worth more than $20,000 – more than $25,000 in the New York City area.
Unlike other drugs on the cartel shopping list, cocaine has become harder to get in recent years.
The Medellin and Cali cartels, large operations that rivaled the Mexican cartels, are no more. They’ve been broken up into much smaller operations that are more vulnerable to Colombian and international law enforcement efforts like raiding laboratories and seizing shipments.
An unstable political situation in Venezuela has reduced the number of ports used for shipping cocaine from South America. Some studies indicate less acreage in Colombia is now being used for coca production, while production in Peru has increased.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other law enforcement agencies believe more cocaine is being siphoned to markets in Europe and Asia where a kilogram can sell for more than $40,000 – much higher than in the U.S. market.
All of that had has led to a decrease in the availability of cocaine here.
Source: federal court records and DEA reports