The Narco-State

A ‘Narco-State’ (also Narco-capitalism or Narco-economy) is a Political and Economic term applied to States where Government policies are seen to collude and cooperate with the illegal drug trade.  Its characterised by a mutual co-dependency between the drug trade and Government Bureaucracy to create system of governance in which the two        re-inforce each other to seriously undermine the Rule of Law.

In my view, a Narco-State is an advanced Kleptocracy.

Narcos 3 carries on from the previous seasons in exploring the evolution of the Narco-State in Latin America, and its relationship to North America through the office of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Narcos highlights significant decisions, and the rationale advanced within the Bureaucracies of the affected countries as they wage ‘The War On Drugs’ against the Medellin and Cali Cartels…The dishonourable Bureaucratic practices characterising the ‘War on Drugs’ are detailed well in Narcos.

The Business Insider Article we’ve shared below takes us deep into the Narco-State, and the state of the War on Drugs today…Enjoy!


After Pablo Escobar was gunned down on a rooftop in Medellin, Colombia, the massive cartel he helped build to shuttle cocaine to the US and wreak violence throughout Colombia soon came apart. In the Medellin cartel’s absence, the Cali cartel, which had financed the extralegal groups that helped hunt down Escobar, reigned briefly.

But it too was brought down in mid-1995 with the capture of Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela. It marked not only the end of the Cali cartel but also of the all-powerful, top-to-bottom cartel model that Escobar had established with his Medellin operation.

Beginning in 1995, Colombia’s criminal underworld organizations would evolve into fundamentally different groups, responding to both shifts in the global drug market and to the ongoing pressure that the Colombian authorities, backed by the US, applied to them.

The first evolution, beginning in the mid-1990s, saw Colombia’s large, hierarchical and vertically organized cartels — what Insight Crime has identified as the first generation of drug-trafficking organizations — break down into federations and alliances; groups that would form the second generation of drug traffickers.

The Cali and Medellin cartels both left remnants — the former provided the roots for the Norte del Valle cartel, while members of the latter would help form the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, a right-wing paramilitary group. (The Norte del Valle cartel also partnered with the AUC for protection.)

The AUC emerged from “self-defense” groups — like Pablo Escobar and Carlos Lehder’s “Death to kidnappers” — that the first generation of traffickers helped form to combat challenges posed by armed left-wing groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, aka the FARC, and the M-19 rebels, the latter of which allegedly partnered with Escobar on at least one occasion.

These trafficker-backed self-defense groups also clashed with the Colombian government and were turned on leftists and other social groups seen as undesirable by Colombian landowners and other elites.

The Medellin cartel and the Cali cartel continued to exist in some form or another for quite some time, but it took a while for things to settle, and while things were being settled there were literally hundreds of dead bodies throughout Cali, Medellin, and Bogota, as, again, individuals tried, through sheer force of power and murder, to establish their bona fides as the next generation of leaders.

Violent as it was, the scene no longer had a dominating figure like Escobar, with the presence and the power to rule the drug world.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, paramilitary groups like the AUC took on a larger role in the underworld, expanding their role in drug trafficking while pursuing new activities like robbery, extortion, and kidnapping.

Second-generation drug-trafficking groups like the AUC also expanded their relationships with Colombia’s bureaucracy. Links like those Don Berna had to local and national elites helped these groups expand and safeguard their power, and the ties often went to the very top.

There’s been very weak administrations in Colombia, and there’s been some presidential candidates that were actually taking money from the Medellin and then also from the Cali cartel. The connections appear to have endured between Political and Criminal successors.

The new groups have also learned from the example of Escobar, whose campaign of wholesale violence against the State earned him the attention of both Bogota and Washington.

Since 2008, even smaller and more organised Cartels have emerged that work very closely with the Mexican cartels. Today the Mexican Cartels are probably the most powerful in the world, having taken over from their Colombian predecessors.

The saga continues with no end in sight, although recently Colombian Rebel and Paramilitary groups like FARC signed a Peace Accord with the Colombian Government. Time will eventually reveal what will become of the phenomenon the world has come to call the ‘Narco-State’, and its all thanks to the ambition and legacy of Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel.

Narcos does a very good job of telling how the story of the modern Naro-State has unfolded through the eyes of the Underworld, and the Bureaucracy meant to confront it.

Links & Credits

Narcos 3 Trailer:

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