HomeNewsBriefColombia Police Invent Coca Eradication Machine
BRIEF

Colombia Police Invent Coca Eradication Machine

COLOMBIA / 18 DEC 2012 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

Colombian police have reportedly invented a device that allows them to rapidly pull up coca bushes, although whether it can grant coca eradicators greater protection from anti-personnel mines and possible gunfire is another question.

As El Tiempo reports, the machine was designed by a group of officers in Bogota's school of police technology. Intended to be attached to an ATV vehicle, the machine can remove a coca plant, roots and all, in about 30 seconds, police told the newspaper. This is compared to the average time of two minutes which it usually takes a coca eradicator to remove the plant from the ground.

The device is set to be tested in Putumayo province, along Colombia's border with Ecuador, and in the municipality of Tumaco in Nariño province, in the Pacific southwest. These are among the most coca-rich areas in Colombia. According to the most recent coca cultivation survey released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Tumaco is the municipality with the highest amount of coca in Colombia, with some 5,771 hectares.

Police say they began designing the machine in 2010 in an effort to devise new strategies to protect coca eradicators. Eradication teams are sometimes targeted by sniper fire and surprise ambushes by guerrilla groups the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). Eradicators also fall victim to the anti-personnel mines that the guerrillas typically leave behind in areas of coca production which they control. According to El Tiempo, so far in 2012 five eradicators and 11 police were killed by anti-personnel mines while completing eradication work, with another 108 wounded.

InSight Crime Analysis

The guerrillas' use of landmines to protect coca cultivations has helped make Colombia the second most affected country in the world in terms of landmine injuries and deaths, just after Afghanistan. While the device invented by Colombian police is intended to bring down this casualty rate, the machine's ability to do so appears to be limited. There are questions about the device's practicality -- the current design reportedly only works when attached to an ATV vehicle, and not all vehicles can access the rural, difficult terrain where coca is most often cultivated. And while the use of the machine certainly puts greater distance between the coca eradicator and the actual plant, it is unlikely to give them further protection from a landmine explosion.

Police are aware of these challenges. According to El Tiempo, the machine's inventors hope to eventually design a version which can be controlled remotely. 

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

COCA / 12 JUL 2022

The historic publication of the Final Report from Colombia’s Truth Commission has crystallized the core issues that president-elect Gustavo Petro…

COLOMBIA / 20 OCT 2021

The Pachenca, also known as the Conquering Self-Defense Forces of the Sierra (Autodefensas Conquistadores de la Sierra), emerged following the…

BRAZIL / 4 MAY 2021

Brazil, Colombia and Peru have deployed their armies to fight deforestation and other crimes in the Amazon rainforest.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…