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Peru becomes world's top cocaine producer

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 2nd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It's something that the nation of Peru will probably not be proud of - but it has overtaken its fellow South American nation of Colombia as the world's top producer of cocaine. Production of the deadly narcotic fell by an estimated 25 percent in a year's time in Colombia, according to a White House report.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that Colombia now ranks third, behind Bolivia in addition to Peru.

"Potential production of pure cocaine in Colombia is down to 195 metric tons (in 2011) from 700 metric tons in 2001, the lowest production potential level since 1994 and the first time since 1995 that Colombia is producing less cocaine than either Peru or Bolivia," Kerlikowske says.

Peru was the leading producer of cocaine in the Eighties and Nineties.

The drop in Colombia cocaine production has coincided with a decline in U.S. cocaine overdose deaths, positive workplace drug tests, the purity of cocaine available for street purchase and domestic cocaine seizures, Kerlikowske's office reported.

"Let me add some context to these results. They didn't happen overnight, there was a sustained effort requiring nearly a decade of steady, strategic pressure across more than one administration in both the United States and Colombia."

Kerlikowske says that while the recent news is encouraging, the fight against Mexico's drug cartels "poses a significant challenge."

The Texas Director of Public Safety Steve McCraw says that there is a significant criminal threat from Mexico drug cartels that are smuggling drugs throughout his state and the nation.

"These numbers are certainly heartening, but they should not distract us from the fact that the transnational criminal organizations that supply cocaine are a threat to civil society everywhere, as we've seen with our southern neighbor Mexico," he added.

"This Administration condemns the gruesome drug-related violence and is committed to partnering with the Mexican government to disrupt the cartels that commit such brutality."

Kerlikowske says that the reduction in narcotic production is largely the result of Plan Colombia, a $7.5 billion U.S.-backed effort that was launched in 1999 to help the South American government crack down on a left-wing insurgency and drug organizations.

"The results are historic and have tremendous implications, not just for the United States and the Western Hemisphere, really globally," Kerlikowske said.

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