19 June 2009

UNODC Reports Steep Decline in Cocaine Production in Colombia

Concerns About Links Between Drugs And Terrorism in Peru; Major Increase in Seizures

VIENNA, 19 June (UN Information Service) - Coca surveys of the Andean countries issued today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) show a major decline in coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia. Cultivation dropped by 18 per cent to 81,000 hectares, while production was down 28 per cent, from 600 metric tons in 2007 to 430 metric tons in 2008. The dramatic year-on-year reductions represent a return to the levels of coca cultivation reported during the 2004 to 2006 period, in line with a decline since 2000. In terms of potential production, the 2008 results are the lowest in Colombia in a decade.

Much of the decline is due to the manual eradication of 96,115 hectares of coca (an increase of 44 per cent over 2007), in addition to 133,496 hectares of coca that was sprayed. "This is a remarkable achievement," said the Executive Director of UNODC Antonio Maria Costa. "It means that more coca bush was eradicated in Colombia than was grown in all of Bolivia and Peru."

However, cultivation was up 6 per cent in Bolivia and 4.5 per cent in Peru. In Bolivia, potential production of cocaine rose 9 per cent to 113 metric tons, while in Peru it was up 4.1 per cent to 302 metric tons.

"The increases for Bolivia and Peru show a trend in the wrong direction," said Mr. Costa. "Since 2000, coca cultivation has decreased in Colombia, and has increased in Bolivia and Peru," observed the UNODC Executive Director. "Peru must guard against a return to the days when terrorists and insurgents, like the Shining Path, profited from drugs and crime," warned Mr. Costa.

The farm-gate value of coca leaf in Colombia is falling, making it less attractive for farmers. Indeed, 20,000 less households grew coca in 2008 compared with 2007 (a decrease of 26 per cent). UNODC is supporting efforts by the governments of Colombia and Peru to help farmers develop licit livelihoods. "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," said Mr. Costa. He also warned that "drugs are destroying fragile eco-systems in national parks."

The surveys show that drug trafficking is being seriously disrupted. In Colombia, 200 tons of cocaine was seized in 2008, a 57 per cent increase over 2007. More than 3,200 labs were destroyed - an increase of 36 per cent. In Bolivia, there was a 45 per cent increase in reported seizures of cocaine base, from 14,912 kg to 21,641, and a 145 per cent increase in seizures of cocaine hydrochloride (from 2,923 kg to 7,246 kg). Peruvian officials reported an 86 per cent increase in seizures of cocaine base (from 6,260 kg to 11,754 kg) and a 100 per cent increase in cocaine hydrochloride (from 8,100 kg to 16,203 kg).

"Cocaine supply is shrinking, as is demand in major markets of North America while cocaine use in Western Europe has stopped growing. This may explain why prices are up, and purity is down. This may also explain why cartels are becoming so violent," said the UNODC Executive Director.

The reports are available on the UNODC website at www.unodc.org

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For further information, please contact:

Walter Kemp
Spokesman and Speechwriter, UNODC
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-5629
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-5629
Email: walter.kemp@unodc.org