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2 Displacement, Deforestation, and Drugs: Antiquities Trafficking and the Narcotics Support Economies of Guatemala

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Chapter Summary

This chapter presents a preliminary evaluation of existing evidence for the connection between antiquities trafficking and narcotics trafficking in Central America, particularly through the Petén department of the Republic of Guatemala, the heartland of the ancient Maya. It begins with an overview of what is known about the historic structure of Central American antiquities looting and trafficking networks. The chapter presents a discussion of the rise of narcotics trafficking in the region as it relates to post-conflict land distribution: a situation that brings both narcotics traffickers and the victims of their support economies closer and closer to archaeological sites. It presents preliminary case studies of archaeological sites exploited as a result of the activities of narcotics cartels. The chapter concludes with a short assessment of what evidence exists for antiquities being looted and moved by narcotics traffickers and what realistic connections appear to exist between these two illicit networks.

Keywords: antiquities trafficking; archaeological sites; Central America; deforestation; Guatemala; narcotics trafficking



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