Drug traffickers have increasingly taken up residence in Central American rain forests, and brought environmental devastation with them, according to a new study in the journal Science.
Researchers found that annual deforestation rates in parts of the region quadrupled between 2007 and 2011, after an American and Mexican crackdown led to an influx of traffickers in remote forests.
During that period, deforestation in Honduras jumped from 20 square kilometers per year to 60.
Researchers refer to the uptick in deforestation as the “narco effect.”
“By infusing already weakly governed frontiers with unprecedented amounts of cash and weapons” drug traffickers create incentive for local officials to turn a blind eye, or outright assist, in the deforestation of protected areas, according to the study.
The full study is available for purchase HERE.