Colombia’s cocaine production fell to its lowest in a decade last year
as demand declined and crackdowns reaped rewards, but rose in Bolivia and Peru, the U.N. anti-crime agency said on Friday.
Cocaine production in Colombia, the world’s No. 1 supplier, fell by 28
percent last year according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime
(UNODC), but rose 4 by percent and 9 percent in Peru and Bolivia
“The increases for Bolivia and Peru show a trend in the wrong
direction,” UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in a
statement. The two countries together produced about as much cocaine as
Colombia in 2008.
“Peru must guard against a return to the days when terrorists and
insurgents, like the (guerrilla group) Shining Path, profited from
drugs and crime,” Costa said.
Colombia produced less as demand from the world’s main cocaine markets
fell, but smaller suppliers Bolivia and Peru made more as production
shifted slightly away from the biggest producer, according to UNODC
“In terms of … production, the 2008 results are the lowest in Colombia in a decade,” the UNODC said in a statement.
Drug trafficking was being “seriously disrupted” thanks to action by
local officials, it said. According to the agency, 200 tons of cocaine
was seized in 2008, a 57 percent increase compared with 2007.
The value of coca leaf, the raw ingredient of cocaine, is falling in
Colombia, making it less attractive for farmers, it said. Cocaine
supply is shrinking and the drug is getting harder to transport,
boosting prices and lowering purity.
“This may also explain why cartels are becoming so violent,” Costa
said. Cocaine demand is also falling in the main North American
Overall coca cultivation declined in Colombia last year, down 18
percent compared with 2007. Besides being made into cocaine, the leaf
is also used as a remedy for altitude sickness and to stave off hunger.
Championed by Bolivian President Evo Morales, a former coca farmer,
the leaf is also chewed and used in teas, in cooking and for religious
Costa said the UNODC was working with farmers to ensure the plant
was not being turned into cocaine, which was used at least once by
between 15.5 million and 20.5 million people in 2007, according to
“Much more development assistance is needed throughout the Andean
countries, particularly in poor regions like the Yungas of Bolivia,
where coca is the only source of income,” he said.
The U.N.’s annual World Drug Report is published next week. (Reuters)