Colombian officials took participants in the FBI’s annual Police Summit for Latin America and the Caribbean on a tour of eradicated coca fields and a simulated cocaine lab in the hills surrounding the coastal city of Santa Marta, reports El Heraldo.
Four helicopter gunships from the police’s anti-narcotics division took 48 of the 300 visiting officials on a tour of the Sierra Nevada, to view fields that have been recently used by narco-traffickers to cultivate drugs.
Noting the damage done to the environment near the coast, Jose Pedro Potocari from Argentina’s federal police said “It is too bad that these landscapes were used for illicit crops.”
In addition to the aerial tours, the Colombian police also took the visiting officials to a simulated cocaine laboratory to demonstrate how drug traffickers produce cocaine. At the lab, Colombian anti-narcotics officials showed the foreign police chiefs how various ingredients are used to transform raw coca leaves into cocaine.
Commenting on his experience, Colonel Maxime Baez from the Dominican Republic said, “We now have a broad vision of the drug problem that Colombia faces, from production to distribution, and also of the fight against the narco-traffickers.”
Gary Foster, executive director of the FBI National Academy Associates, praised Colombia’s efforts. “Through this visit, we have gained an appreciation to the dimension of the drug problem, and the perspective of Colombia and its partner countries in combating the narcos.”
The summit, which began on Monday and runs through Friday, was held at the Cartagena Hilton Hotel. The conference gathered law enforcement leaders from around the region to strengthen technical, scientific, and intelligence cooperation between countries, in an effort to combat national and transnational issues, such as terrorism, drug and arms trafficking, and weapons of mass destruction.