Central America

Overview of drug laws and legislative trends in Central America

The Central American region connecting North and South America has traditionally been an area with intensive trafficking routes, of drugs, weapons and people.  Several of the seven countries that make up the region have been involved in civil wars during the 1980s that has left it with a legacy of political violence, migration and a large illegal arms market.  Drugs trafficking routes over land and sea have existed for decades, transporting mainly cocaine from the Andean region to the United States and Mexico. 

The past decade a resurge of violence occurred in the region, affecting three countries in particular: Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. This part of the region - often referred to as The Northern Triangle - has the highest murder rates in the world, increasing during the past few years. Much of the violence is related to conflicts between drug trafficking organizations that occupy territories around the region, competing for routes and networks. In Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize this high level of violence is absent, but these countries are as much affected by drug traffic as the Northern Triangle. Recently some political leaders from the region have spoken in favor on the need for alternative policies,   including regulation of the drugs market.


El Salvador


Costa Rica