Though still the world’s top cocaine producer, Colombia has made huge strides against the drug trade, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
An UNODC study says coca cultivation and cocaine production fell from 1.4% to 0.3% of Colombia’s gross national product between 2001 and 2009, thanks to shifting drug routes, tighter controls and crop eradication.
The report,”The New Dimensions of Narco-Trafficking in Colombia” by economist and researcher Ricardo Rocha, is a follow-up to a book Rocha wrote in 2000 entitled “The Colombian Economy After 25 Years of Drug Trafficking.”
He documents the changes in the trade following the successes dismantling the big cartels in the 1990s — though this, says Rocha, has led micro-trafficking and smaller-scale crime to proliferate in some areas.
Rocha said, “The golden age, when the large drug cartels monopolized the wholesale market, is over. Now these profits are being appropriated by Central America, Venezuela and Mexico.”
The study, reported the Miami Herald, also looked at the global demand for cocaine — which, says Rocha, has remained relatively steady. U.S. cocaine use dropped almost 70% between 1989 and 2010, but Europe has seen cocaine use spike. And in Latin America, its use is on the rise as emerging economies grow.
Rocha, an economist at Rosario University in Bogota, said “There’s a strong correlation between increasing living standards and cocaine use. We are going to see new markets for cocaine. It’s the dark side of globalization.”
Though Colombian police chief Oscar Naranjo claims that Peru has recently surpassed Colombia as the world’s biggest drug producer. But the UN estimates that it still just comes out on top, with 62,000 of hectares of coca cultivation compared to 61,200 in Peru. Bolivia comes in third with about 30,900 hectares.