"Although some clandestine flights have been observed along the Pacific coast of Central America, including some affecting the Mexican airspace close to the border with Guatemala,97 and some departing from Ecuador to various destinations,98 this mode of conveyance appears to be more pronounced along the eastern (Caribbean) coast, where flights are extensively used alongside maritime shipments to facilitate the northward flow of cocaine from South America towards Mexico.99 Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) is a major point of departure for such flights.100 101 102 While some of these flights appear to reach Mexico directly (close to its southern borders, for example in the state of Quintana Roo),103 others land on the Guatemalan side of the Mexico-Guatemala border,104 or else in Honduras105 106 or Belize.107

"Cocaine is also trafficked through Central America towards Mexico via land routes, sometimes crossing several land borders sequentially from south to north.108 109 110 111 Small quantities are trafficked already across the Colombia-Panama border,112 but trafficking by land often comes after earlier segments of the itinerary involving maritime or air modalities; specific instances of this transition to land routes have been documented for example in trafficking from El Salvador into Guatemala (after reaching El Salvador via maritime routes through the Gulf of Fonseca),113 114 115 from Honduras into Guatemala (after reaching Honduras by air116 117), and from Guatemala into Mexico (after reaching Guatemala by air118).

"Once cocaine enters Mexico, it is trafficked internally towards the United States, predominantly by land, and also by means of internal clandestine flights.119 In contrast with the important role of containerized shipping on maritime routes used for trafficking to Europe, cocaine trafficking from Mexico into the United States has been mainly documented across the shared land border using non-containerized mode of conveyance (even if sometimes commingled with legitimate goods), often concealed in vehicles, and sometimes using underground tunnels and drones.120 However, the use of maritime vessels for trafficking into the United States, including through official points of entry, has also been observed.121

"Aside from cocaine transiting through Mexico, a minority of cocaine reaches the territory of the United States via the eastern Caribbean route, whereby the drug moves northwards from Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) towards the Caribbean islands via a combination of go-fast vessels and fishing boats, and reaches the United States via Puerto Rico and Florida, bypassing the landmass of Central America and Mexico entirely; the Dominican Republic functions as an important transit country on this route.122 123 124 Furthermore, maritime containers are used to traffic cocaine from the Dominican Republic to ports in Florida, Georgia, Philadelphia, and New York.125"


UNODC, Global Report on Cocaine 2023 - Local Dynamics, Global Challenges. United Nations publications, 2023.