Cocaine trafficking is destroying Central America’s forests | Science | AAAS
Kendra McSweeney knew that something was off. When the geographer at The Ohio State University in Columbus traveled to Honduras’s La Mosquitia region in 2011 to study its indigenous communities, she saw changes to the once lushly forested landscape that shocked her: huge, indiscriminate clearings in the middle of nowhere.
When she asked locals what was going on, they insisted on a sole culprit. “Los narcos.” Drug smugglers who had moved into the region in the mid-2000s—right around the time Mexico’s war on drugs intensified, and almost a decade after McSweeney herself had lived in eastern Honduras. Traffickers in the region had to figure out a way to funnel their money into the legal economy, and land clearing—in the form of cattle ranching, agro-industrial plantations, and timber extraction—was the preferred way to do it.