Colombia’s coca and cocaine production have dropped in the last year, the United States government said Monday, contradicting a recent United Nations report that claimed cultivation had gone up.
The U.S. figures indicating a 17% drop in Colombian coca prodcution stand in sharp contrast to findings released earlier this month by the U.N.’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which said coca production in Colombia was on the rise, having increased from 153,200 acres of coca production in 2010 to 158,100 in 2011.
U.S. estimates of overall coca production in Colombia were still higher than those of the U.N. The document said production had dropped from 247,100 acres in 2010 to 205,000 hectares in 2011.
Normally, the two groups differ slightly in numbers but agree on overall trends, El Tiempo newspaper reported. The Colombian government relies on U.N. calculations in its official reports.
According to the United States, Colombia’s cocaine production had also lowered by 25% in the last year, down to 195 metric tons in 2011. The U.S. numbers indicate that Colombia no longer leads the world in cocaine production: It is now ranked third, following Peru (325 metric tons) and Bolivia (265).
The U.S. drug czar will present these findings Monday in a forum organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Last year, the United States retracted its initial report on Colombian coca production, after officials realized they had included a swath of land that did not exist.
The U.S. statistics have been challenged by journalists in the past. In 2011, Narcoleaks, a group of Italian journalists and researchers, said the United States had reported Colombia produced 295 metric tons of cocaine in 2008, while 351.8 metric tons had been seized in Colombia worldwide. “Someone’s math is wrong,” the group wrote.