The head of a cocaine empire, Nestor Vera, also known as Ivan Mordisco, is helping to preserve the Amazon in Colombia. Mordisco is the former commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and, as such, rules his territory with an iron fist. Many of those working for him also have history in the FARC. Part of the reason Mordisco may be pushing for preservation of the Amazon, according to former FARC council member Pastor Alape, is the cover it provides them and preventing wealthy landowners from expanding and becoming more powerful than the cartel. Experts are worried about the ramifications of the drug empire being the protectors of the Amazon, as their intentions are most likely not purely environmental and more monetary.

Deforestation is a serious issue, especially in the Amazon, as countries like Brazil cut the forest down en masse for lumber and land. Some concerns are Modisco’s intentions and the possibility that he will leverage his protection of the Amazon over the current government, who is in favor of preserving the rainforest. Other concerns are the spread of the cocaine industry in South America as perpetrated by Modisco’s group. His influence is solid, and not easily usurped. The coca fields sustain his group, their business, and the supply and demand keeps them running, especially as providers of an addictive substance. The Amazon in Colombia is in the tenuous grip of Ivan Mordisco; imagine what will happen next.