The U.S. State Department says that Colombia is still the world’s largest producer and exporter of cocaine, and warns of the “major” challenge posed by the paramilitary successor groups.
The State Department’s annual report on the “War on Drugs” says that 90% of the drugs seized in the U.S. originate in Colombia.
However, Colombia has continued its “aggressive interdiction and eradication program” of drug crops and has maintained a strong collaboration in the extradition of persons accused of crimes in the U.S., according to the report. In 2010 Colombia seized over 225 metric tons of cocaine and cocaine base and eradicated approximately 360 acres of illicit coca crops, thereby eliminating hundreds of tons of additional potential cocaine production, the State Department says.
The report also commended the “pressure” that the Colombian government has put on the guerrilla organizations FARC and ELN, who still “retain considerable control” over the areas with high concentration of coca and opium cultivation.
However, it warned of the “major law enforcement challenge” posed by new criminal gangs, “some of which” have members who used to be in paramilitary groups. It said that these gangs are active throughout the country, “competing and sometimes cooperating” in the drug trade with the FARC.
According the State Department’s report, Peru is the world’s second largest cocaine producer, followed by Bolivia and Ecuador.
The International Narcotics Control Board recently removed Colombia from its watch list of countries with a drug trafficking problem due to its success fighting against the trade.
The U.S. report comes soon after the news that several neo-paramilitary leaders have been indicted in the U.S., while the U.N. also made a special mention of the rising neo-paramilitary threat in the country.