Deep in the Amazon, where Colombia, Brazil and Peru meet, the once crime saturated Colombian city of Leticia enjoys relative tranquility, while Brazilian neighbor Tabatinga is rocked by drug trade violence.
The tri-border region’s geographical position leaves it at the heart of a booming drug trade facilitated by porous borders, a fluid population and disparate resources between the three nations.
Across the Amazon River from Leticia, drug traffickers take advantage of Peru’s inadequate state presence to grow and process coca. Drugs flow from the area into regional and international markets, with Brazil’s Amazon capital, Manaus, a key transit point situated a three day riverboat ride from the tri-border area. The drugs also fuel local micro-trafficking, with sales concentrated in poor border communities.