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By Land, Sea, or Air? A Comparative Analysis of Cartel Smuggling Strategies


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Cartels are known for their innovative smuggling techniques, across land, sea, or air, which allow them to clandestinely transport drugs across any point of entry into the United States. With this in mind, it is worth asking: why do cartels choose a certain drug smuggling technique over another, which domain is more commonly used and potentially more successful, and what sorts of structural changes would it take to shift from one method or domain to another? When seeking answers, there are several things to take into consideration: law enforcement is limited in funding, personnel, and assets, which creates endless smuggling opportunities for cartels. Additionally, cartels exploit weak law enforcement and judicial systems, as well as corrupt officials in several countries throughout South and Central America and the Caribbean. Even though cartels sometimes fail, their persistence and motivation are what cause them to be successful. The last consideration is money, which is the main driving factor that causes cartels to switch from one domain to another, or from one method to another. The end result stands firm: cartels benefit most and are more successful using methods in the land domain, specifically tunnels.



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