The balloon effect: The role of US drug policy in the displacement of unaccompanied minors from the Central American Northern triangle

Mathew H. Gendle, Carmen C. Mónico


In recent years there has been a significant increase in unaccompanied minors entering Mexico and the US from the Central American Northern Triangle. This displacement is being encouraged by factors both internal and external to the countries of origin of these unaccompanied minors, and can rightfully be considered one of the most significant migrant crises in recent memory. Drug-related violence and crime in this region is one of several factors underlying this displacement. It is clear that the increasing violence in the CANT is, in part, a consequence of failed US drug policies in Mexico and South America that have displaced drug-related criminal activity to CANT states. This paper provides an overview of the US drug policies that have played a significant role in the continued inflow of unaccompanied minors, which prolongs the humanitarian crisis, and links them to past failed anti-drug efforts attempted by the US in other parts of Latin America.


America; migration; unaccompanied minors; drug trafficking; drug policy

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