Narcoterrorism, first defined by Fernando Belaúnde Terry, the president of Peru in 1983, can be described as an organized campaign of terror that is waged by traffickers in the illegal drug trade. Various forms of terror are employed to impede the efforts of different government agencies that are charged with the responsibility of ending the numerous illegal actions associated with drug cartels. The drug cartels' purpose of narcoterrorism to influence and control government policy and to establish their own "law" through systematic threats and the use of violence.
Threats and acts of violence are carried out not only against government officials, such as police officers and politicians, but also against the civilian population in mass numbers or against one or a few individuals. Among the tactics used in narcoterrorism to challenge government authority are the assassination of officials, kidnappings of officials or of members of their immediate family, torture and bombings of automobiles and buildings in densely populated areas. These acts of terrorism might follow failed attempts on the part of the traffickers to "buy" the favor and protection of government officials who, by enforcing laws, can disrupt some of their operations. This is why narcoterrorism is considered by some countries to be a threat to national security. Individuals and groups involved in this crime might also participate in other crimes for the express purpose of financially supporting other terrorist groups that are not directly related to narcoterrorism.
Other crimes that are inevitably seen in narcoterrorism include, but are not limited to, armed robbery, extortion, blackmail, counterfeiting, money laundering and fraud. Prostitution; pornography, including child pornography; and the smuggling of weapons and of people into various nations are other criminal activities that almost always accompany the crime of illegal drug trafficking. Although the selling of narcotics is at the heart of the illegal drug trade in the tangible sense, the desire for the power and control that come with possessing huge sums of money is at the heart of the trade as far as motivation is concerned.
Globalization has contributed to the international spread of narcoterrorism, a crime that has its roots in South America and Central America. Those who oppose this form of terrorism have continued to urge governments to cooperate with one another in halting the efforts and conspiracies of every known drug cartel. This cooperation has not always been achieved, at least in part, because of the idea of "supply" and "demand" nations. Some nations, such as the United States, consume many more times the drugs than they supply, and others supply many more drugs than they consume. There is usually disagreement regarding national and individual responsibility for resisting drug use, which translates into a resistance to fighting narcoterrorism.