1st Edition

Rethinking Illicit Economies in Opium and Cocaine Policy Responses to Drug Crops in the Global South

By Eric D. U. Gutierrez Copyright 2024
    284 Pages 24 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book investigates the cross-border trade in illicit drug crops in the global south. It exposes an important paradox: despite all the dangers and negative consequences of these criminal networks, in many cases, they also provide marginalised and excluded communities with important private sources of protection, investment, and employment.

    This book reconstructs and compares socioeconomic contexts, criminal careers, and changes in farmgate prices of illicit coca and opium poppy crops in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Colombia, and Bolivia. It investigates the politics of strange bedfellows; informal bankers-without-suits providing cross-border financial services to the undocumented and the unbanked; the criminals without borders; and the mystery of illicit crop prices. The book challenges commonly held assumptions and casts new light on how relationships of conflict and accommodation are arranged and re-arranged in fluid, everchanging contexts, producing often paradoxical outcomes. It then suggests policy reforms and alternative approaches to drug policy, development aid, and peacebuilding work.

    Researchers and students across development, peacebuilding, illicit economies, and conflict studies will find this book an important source of original research and analysis. It will also be useful for politicians, commentators, and public officials considering what to do differently in tackling illicit drug economies.

    1. The Puzzles and Stories of Resilience  2. The Strange Bedfellows of the Illicit Drug Trade  3. Bankers without Suits: The Money Men of Informal and Illicit Economies  4. Survival and Resilience: The Paradox of Illicit Crops  5. Criminals without Borders: Deconstructing and Deciphering the Life Stories and Role of Drug Lords in Agrarian Transformation  6. Precarity, Illicit Markets and the ‘Mystery’ of Prices  7. Intended and Unintended Interdependencies


    Eric D. U. Gutierrez is a practitioner-scholar with over 25 years of research experience and field-based work with NGOs investigating precarity, disturbance, and indeterminacy in the global south. He received his PhD (cum laude) from Erasmus University Rotterdam’s International Institute of Social Studies (EUR-ISS). He was a member of the Executive Management Team of the Drugs and (Dis)Order Research Project led by SOAS-University of London, funded by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). He is now an independent consultant, a Research Fellow at EUR-ISS and the International Centre for Human Rights and Drugs Policy, and a member of the network of experts of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime (GITOC). A Philippine national, he lives with his family in Germany.