Cocaine Smuggling to the US

"In the Americas, the primary cocaine trafficking flow is from Colombia to the United States. The analysis of cocaine seizure samples in the United States mainland suggests that 90 per cent of that cocaine originated in Colombia and 6 per cent originated in Peru, while the origin of the rest was unknown.40

"Cocaine seizures in North America tripled over the period 2014–2018, from 91 tons in 2014 to 272 tons in 2018. The main destination country for cocaine shipments continues to be the United States. Overall, cocaine seizures reported by the United States increased by 14 per cent to 254 tons.41 However, most of those seizures took place outside the United States mainland, where they increased. By contrast, cocaine seizures reported by United States Customs and Border Protection fell from 34 tons in 2017 to 27 tons in 2018, including the reported decreases in seizures along the south-western border, and “drug removals” reported by the DEA, covering seizures made within the territory of the United States, which dropped from 114 tons in 2017 to 93
tons in 2018. This decrease in seizures may have been the result of significant seizures being effected by the United States authorities prior to the cocaine’s arrival in the United States, as well as a combination of changes in trafficking and supply patterns and an overall law enforcement focus on opioids.42 The largest DEA “cocaine removals” at the state level in 2018 were, however, still those reported by states and territories, notably California, Texas, Florida, Georgia and Puerto Rico, all of which are in southern parts of the United States or have a southern border, in addition to the State of New York, in the northeast.43 At the same time, the availability of cocaine was perceived to have declined slightly among the general population in the United States in 2018 as compared to a year earlier.44 This suggests that declines in seizures within the United States in 2018 may indeed have been primarily a reflection of a decrease in cocaine trafficking taking place within the country.

"The main trafficking flow of cocaine still goes from the drug’s major production centres in Colombia, either by sea, in particular via the Pacific Ocean, to Central America or to Mexico, or through Ecuador (mainly for cocaine manufactured in southern Colombia) or by land to Central America (mainly for cocaine manufactured in northern Colombia) and onwards to Mexico45 from where it enters the United States across the south-western border, which is the section of the border where most seizures of cocaine by the United States authorities are made.

"The Pacific route and, to a lesser extent, the Atlantic route remain the two main trafficking routes from Colombia to North America, while trafficking by air and mail continues to be comparatively limited."


World Drug Report 2020. Booklet Three: Drug Supply. June 2020. United Nations publication, Sales No. E.20.XI.6).