The coca leaf, from which cocaine is refined, is grown only in the foothills of the Andes.
Mexico produces more heroin than anywhere but Afghanistan, as well as much cannabis.
Latin American traffickers are even diversifying into synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine.
The illegality of this successful export business means that its multibillion-dollar profits go to criminal gangs.
Their battles for market control have a high cost: According to the United Nations, eight of the world’s 10 most violent countries are in Latin America or the Caribbean. Drugs are not the only business of organized crime but they account for the bulk of the gangs’ income and thus their firepower.