HomeNewsAnalysisColombia's Drug Strategy Paradox - Less Coca Crops, More Cocaine
ANALYSIS

Colombia's Drug Strategy Paradox - Less Coca Crops, More Cocaine

COCA / 6 AUG 2019 BY COLOMBIAN OBSERVATORY OF ORGANIZED CRIME EN

A new UN study shows that while Colombia saw a slight drop in coca crop plantations between 2017 and 2018, this has not a knock-on impact on cocaine production, which continues to rise.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported on August 5 that Colombia's total area of coca crops decreased by 2,000 hectares between 2017 and 2018  from 171,000 in 2017 to 169,000 in 2018.

This is the first time that the United Nations agency had reported a decrease since 2014.

This reduction was concentrated in the departments of Nariño, Putumayo and Guaviare, while increases in coca cultivation were seen in the Norte de Santander, Bolívar and Cauca.

This was the second report confirming this trend. In late June, the White House Office for National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) published its findings, stating that coca crops decreased by 1,000 hectares from 209,000 to 208,000 hectares between 2017 and 2018.

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profile

Despite a slight drop, the UNODC representative in Colombia, Pierre Lapaque, confirmed that "Colombia is still at the highest levels of coca crops."

But this trend has not been reflected in cocaine production. Despite lower coca crops, the total amount of cocaine produced in Colombia has risen, with the UNODC report estimating it went from 1,058 tons in 2017 to 1,120 in 2018.

InSight Crime Analysis

Colombia now faces a complicated paradox: coca cultivation is down, even if incrementally, but cocaine production is on the rise.

This contradiction reflects the difficulties facing Colombia's drug strategy. So far, the government has credited its Ruta Futuro (Future Path) anti-drug plan for reducing the number of hectares of coca crops, with some success. But although Ruta Futuro has been sold as a plan which will tackle all aspects of Colombia's fight against drugs, it has not been able to make the same dent in cocaine production.

This sustained increase in cocaine being made has been reflected in continuous seizures of several tons of the drug worldwide. In June, US authorities seized 15 tons of cocaine in the port of Philadelphia. That happened a few months after in February 1.4 tons of the drug were found in the port of New York.

And Colombia remains the country with the most cocaine seized in the world, although the total amount of seizures dropped by 4.7 percent, from 434.7 tons in 2017 to 414.5 tons in 2018.

Most likely, these cocaine hauls will continue to be found, as drug trafficking groups throughout Colombia continue to diversify routes and transportation methods.

SEE ALSO: Small Drop in Colombia's Coca Crops Little Cause for Cheer

According to the UNODC report, the rise in cocaine production is because coca crops are now increasingly concentrated in the most suitable areas of the country and the use of coca leaves providing higher yields. The report highlights just how concentrated coca production is in Colombia, with 44 percent of the country's crops being located in just 10 municipalities.

This shows that the forced eradication of coca crops, a pillar of the Colombian government's anti-drugs policy and which is on course to eradicate 80,000 hectares in 2019, does not correlate to lower cocaine production.

According to one Colombian coca crop production expert who spoke to InSight Crime on condition of anonymity, the best results in the fight against drugs come from attacking the production chain. This can be either from seizing inputs needed to produce cocaine, such as cement and gasoline, or by focusing on destroying the laboratories making the drug.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COCAINE / 19 MAY 2022

Europe’s increasing demand for cocaine means the drug is now being producing in Europe by local criminals with help of…

COLOMBIA / 16 JUN 2022

Jobanis de Jesús Ávila Villadiego, alias "Chiquito Malo," is the current commander of the Urabeños.

COCAÍNA / 16 MAR 2022

The recent arrests of women transporting cocaine in fake pregnancy bellies, show that human couriers, an old method employed by…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…