The Medellin Cartel
Identify the organized crime group, including its structure and key organization members. Then, discuss the countries, communities, and other physical and geographical areas where the group resides and operates. Determine the global significance of this organized crime group.
The Medellin Cartel in Columbia was an organization of drug smugglers and suppliers having its origins in Medellin City (Micolta, 2013). This drug cartel operated in Colombia and Peru, Bolivia, Honduras, Canada, and Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. Pablo Escobar, and other drug lords, such as the Ochoa Vasquez brothers Juan David and Jorge Luis, founded and ran the cartel. By the year 1993, the government of Colombia, the U.S. government, and the Cali Cartel managed to dismantle the cartel by assassinating and imprisoning its members, including Pablo Escobar himself, who was taken down on his 44th birthday. At the peak of its operations, Pablo Escobar’s cartel was smuggling tons of cocaine weekly into various countries worldwide, earning approximately sixty million dollars daily. At that time, the cartel supplied at least eighty percent of the U.S. cocaine market. The Medellin Cartel was structured like a monarchy with Pablo Escobar at the top, and his close associates came in second in command; that is, the Ochoa Vasquez brothers, Jose Gonzalo, Carlos Lehder, and Rodrigues Gacha. At the hierarchy bottom were the footmen who were responsible for running the drug errands and creating the cocaine.
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The Medellin Cartel, under the leadership of Pablo Escobar, became increasingly violent, gaining more power. Later, it declared war against Colombia by conducting multiple terrorist attacks and targeting the government to bring it down (Bowley, 2013). Thousands of government officials and innocent citizens were killed due to the cartel’s violent campaign, including Luis Carlos Galan, a presidential hopeful at the time. Medellin Cartel bribed hundreds of government personnel to influence the politics of Colombia, and those who resisted the bribery were killed instantly. But increased amount of violence ultimately contributed to the cartel’s downfall.
Explain the historical context and related events that led to the foundation of this organization.
In the late 1970s, Pablo Escobar’s business kicked off, almost the same time the cocaine business took off in Colombia (Becker, 2013). After the 1960s drug movement, there was an increase in demand for psychoactive drugs. As a result of its tropical climate, the Republic of Colombia became the leading coca plant grower. Escobar managed to enter the cocaine business when he started by smuggling an unrefined version of the coca plant, known as coca paste, into Colombia from America and then back to America. He would take charge of refining the coca paste and then hire mules to smuggle the powder into the U.S. inside condoms or pack them inside their luggage. Later on, he collaborated with George Jung and Carlos Lehder, two other members of the Medellin Cartel that were experts in flight trafficking. Through the Bahamas, the cartel organized flights into South Florida using small biplanes that flew below the radar and managed to land in the Everglades on unmarked dirt roads. Escobar’s cousin, Gustavo de Jesus, was eventually enlisted into the cartel, and for many years, he was a part of the cartel’s operation behind the flamboyant leadership of Escobar. His work was to develop the cartel’s routes and maintain order in those routes (Filippone, 2008).
Identify the types of business this organization conducts and then determine its business strategy.
The Medellin Cartel controlled eighty percent of the industry, making it obtain various means of transporting the merchandise and the money; therefore, Pablo’s multiple vehicles, his Learjet, boats, and trucks were needed for operations. But all that was not enough for the merchandise transportation (Becker, 2013). Therefore, according to reports, he invested in two submarines for transporting cocaine, which enabled it to produce and smuggle the drugs more effectively in the U.S. to the United States. This added diversity to transportation services, and at the same time, the strategy made it hard to be tracked down by his enemies; it was also an intelligent move because shipping was almost invisible, deep under the blue waters. As cocaine popularity grew in the U.S., the Medellin Cartel increased the complexity and scale of drug trafficking. Consequently, they raised their profits even more, earning more than sixty million monthly, and the estimates of their total profits reached billions of dollars. After some time, the Medellin Cartel expanded its operations and gained more power, enabling it to invest hugely in highly sophisticated equipment.
According to Pablo’s brother, he did not take part in the purchase of Norman Cay; instead, it was Carlos Lehder’s sole venture (Micolta, 2013). Robert Vesco and Escobar bought a significant portion of the island, including three thousand three hundred feet airstrips, a hotel, a harbor, aircraft, and boats. They also constructed a refrigerated warehouse for storing cocaine. From 1978 to 1982, it was used as the main route of smuggling drugs for the Medellin Cartel. With huge earnings generated on this route, the cartel eventually bought 7.7 square miles of Antioquia land where Hacienda Napoles was built. A luxurious house that contained a lake, a zoo, a private bullring, a sculpture garden, and many more diversions for the cartel and Escobar’s family was constructed. At some point, an estimated seventy to eighty tons of cocaine got shipped to the U.S. from Colombia monthly. At the peak of its power in the 1980s, the cartel was transporting up to eleven tons of cocaine per flight to the U.S. (Becker, 2013). According to Roberto Escobar, the most oversized shipment by the Medellin Cartel was fifty-one thousand pounds mixed with fish paste transported via boat. When questioned about the essentiality of the drug business, Escobar replied that it was not hard because all it took was to bribe people here and there and pay any willing banker to help bring the money back. In 1989, Escobar’s net worth was estimated at three billion U.S. dollars by Forbes Magazine.
Interpret the political influence and impact of the organization on society. Provide examples to support your claims.
In the year 1982, Escobar was able to attain legitimate political power when he was elected as a member of parliament in Colombia (Goldman, 2017). But two years later, he was forced to resign from his position and could not use the government to enhance his ambition. But by August 1989, the Medellin cartel was compelling and the most feared drug cartel in the world, but it was not stable. While the cartel had lots of money and controlled the majority of the government of Colombia, obstacles forced it to strive to maintain power and defend itself continuously. Legal barriers like the uncorrupted sections of the government and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration were threatening the cartel’s operations. More specifically, the DEA threatened extradition. As the Medellin cartel and other drug traders of Colombia continued to supply America with illicit substances, the government of the United States had a lot at stake. It was forced to be more involved in its citizens’ well-being. Apart from the national government’s efforts, the cartel was worried about other forces, such as their rivals that targeted the share of the market and the ones that sought to finish the Medellin cartel’s violence. In 1979, Colombia and the U.S. signed the Colombia International Extradition Treaty, a cooperation sign between governments and broader extradition grounds (Goldman, 2017). With the document updated, more activities about drug trafficking, like obstruction of justice and aircraft hijacking, became extraditable crimes, which position in the war against the Medellin Cartel. In the year 1982, when the treaty was enforced officially, Pablo Escobar became a member of the Colombian Congress; he used his power to pressure Colombian politicians to undo that treaty as well as other power the United States had regarding extradition, but he failed, and when his actions and position in the Medellin Cartel became public, he was impeached from office.
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Becker, S. (2013). The Effects of the Drug Cartels on Medellín and the Colombian State. Retrieved from brandeis.edu: https://bir.brandeis.edu/bitstream/handle/10192/25053/BeckerThesis2013.pdf?sequence=1
Bowley, J. (2013, January 5th). Robin Hood or Villain: The Social Constructions of Pablo Escobar. Retrieved from psu.edu: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.671.6499&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Filippone, R. (2008). The Medellin Cartel: Why we can’t win the drug war. Studies in Conflicts and Terrorism, 17 (4), 323-344.
Goldman, L. (2017). Medellin Cartel: Increasing Political Power. Retrieved from modelun.com: http://modelun.com/cjmunc/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2017/05/Medell%C3%ADn-Cartel-Google-Docs.pdf
Micolta, P. (2013, March 3rd). IlLicit Interest Groups: The Political Impact of the Medellin Drug Trafficking Organization in Colombia. Retrieved from fiu.edu: https://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1732&context=etd
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Week 4 – Assignment: Examine the Structure, Members, and Business Strategies of an Organized Crime Group
As a scholar in criminal justice, you have been asked to prepare an article for the college newspaper that assesses organized crime organizations. Choose an organized crime group and schedule an assessment that addresses the following:
- Identify the organized crime group, including its structure and key organization members. Then, discuss the countries, communities, and other physical and geographical areas where the group resides and operates. Determine the global significance of this organized crime group.
- Explain the historical context and related events that led to the foundation of this organization.
- Identify the types of business this organization conducts, then determine its business strategy.
- Interpret the political influence and impact of the organization on society. Provide examples to support your claims.
Support your article with a minimum of three scholarly resources. In addition to these specified resources, other appropriate educational resources, including older articles, may be included.
Length: 5-7 pages, not including title and reference pages
Your article should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course by providing new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards.