Influx of coca imported to Colombia from Bolivia, Peru

Posted on Apr 19 2014 - 10:08am by Rico
Harvesting coca leaves

Harvesting coca leaves

Gen. Ricardo Restrepo, the head of Colombia’s Anti-Narcotics Police, said domestic narco-traffickers are acquiring an increasing amount of coca, the main ingredient used to make cocaine, from Bolivia and Peru.

“We are seeing the same phenomenon as 30 years ago, when coca base arrived from [Bolivia and Peru] and they produced [cocaine] hydrochloride here,” he told the Colombian daily El Tiempo.

Restrepo said criminal organizations and cartels are collaborating to send their narcotics shipments together, underlining how trafficking organizations often group shipments together, paying a “tax” to larger criminal organizations to oversee and guarantee the delivery of consignments. He highlighted the example of a recent record-breaking seven ton seizure discovered in Cartagena that was partly owned by a Mexican cartel.

On some level, a return to the 1980s drug trafficking dynamic commonly associated with former kingpins such as Pablo Escobar — whereby cheap Peruvian and Bolivian coca paste was transported to be processed in Colombia — makes sense. 

Cocaine production in Colombia has fallen drastically over the past decade, with coca leaf cultivation dropping from 163,000 hectares in 2000 to 48,000 in 2012, and the country has the toughest eradication policies in the region. In 2013, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) confirmed that Peru had re-established itself as the world’s primary coca cultivator and cocaine producer.

However, Peru only produces an estimated 12,000 hectares of coca more than Colombia, and Colombian drug traffickers should not be short of product despite the declining supply. Peruvian coca paste may well be cheaper than that produced in Colombia, but its value increases at every stage of a trafficking route, reducing savings traffickers make.

Source: Infosurhoy, El Tiempo