Drug Trafficking Poses Surprising Threats to Rain Forests, Scientists Find
Criminals wreak havoc on environment, sparking calls for drug policy reform.
Illegal drugs have a surprising new victim: ecologically important lands in Central America, where criminal activities associated with the drug trade are wreaking havoc, scientists report.
It has long been known that rain forests are often cleared to grow coca for cocaine, but a new paper in the journal Science warns that the business of transporting illegal drugs and laundering the proceeds is contributing to deforestation, too.
Traffickers build landing strips and roads in the forest to move their product, the new research finds. Some traffickers bribe officials to look the other way, then buy up local land to convert it into palm oil plantations and ranching operations as a way of laundering drug money.
"There are profound ecological impacts