Narcoterrorism | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

Narcoterrorism is a term that describes the violent actions of drug traffickers to influence governments or prevent government efforts to stop drug trafficking.

Exploring Narcoterrorism

Narcoterrorism is a combination of two words: narcotics, meaning drugs, and terrorism, meaning the use of violence or threats for political purposes. Therefore, narcoterrorism refers to the use of violence and intimidation by drug traffickers to influence government policies and prevent interference in their drug operations.

Understanding Narcotics

Narcotics, in general, are drugs that reduce pain and induce sleep. However, in the context of narcoterrorism, the term refers to illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Drug traffickers are individuals or organizations involved in transporting and selling these illegal substances.

What is Terrorism?

Terrorism is the use of violence, often against civilians, to achieve political goals. Terrorists aim to create fear and chaos to push their agendas. In the case of narcoterrorism, the goal is typically to prevent government interference in drug trafficking operations.

Narcoterrorism in Practice

It can take many forms, such as threats, kidnappings, bombings, or assassinations. For instance, a drug cartel might use violence against government officials or civilians to discourage anti-drug policies. They might also cause public fear to destabilize the government and create an environment where they can operate freely.

The Impact of Narcoterrorism

This has significant impacts on society. It can lead to increased violence, corruption, and instability. It also affects public health due to the proliferation of illegal drugs. It’s a global problem that requires international cooperation to address.

Countering Narcoterrorism

Governments and international organizations work together to combat narcoterrorism. Their efforts include law enforcement actions, such as arresting drug traffickers and seizing their assets. They also work to reduce the demand for illegal drugs through public education and treatment programs.


In conclusion, narcoterrorism refers to the violent acts carried out by drug traffickers to influence government actions and promote their illegal activities. It’s a significant problem that affects societies worldwide, and combating it requires international collaboration and a comprehensive approach that addresses both the supply and demand of illegal drugs. Understanding narcoterrorism is crucial in the field of criminal justice, as it helps us to address one of the significant sources of crime and social instability in our world today.

Learn More

On Other Sites

Teiner, D. (2020). Cartel-Related Violence in Mexico as Narco-Terrorism or Criminal InsurgencyPerspectives on terrorism14(4), 83-98.

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Last Modified: 06/27/2023


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