HomeNewsBriefColombia Reports Record Cocaine Seizures Amid Soaring Production
BRIEF

Colombia Reports Record Cocaine Seizures Amid Soaring Production

COCA / 15 JUN 2016 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

Colombia's seizure of a record amount of cocaine in 2016 is likely a reflection of criminal groups' ability to boost drug production year upon year despite the government's constant efforts to fight both production and trafficking.

President Juan Manuel Santos announced on June 14 that 146.5 metric tons of cocaine have been seized in the country during the first five and a half months of 2016 -- an average of about 6 metric tons per week.

"Never before … in all the decades we've spent fighting drug trafficking, has so much cocaine been seized by security forces," Santos said during his weekly security briefing.

That figure represents a slight improvement over the 295 metric tons of cocaine hydrochloride and cocaine base seized during all of 2015, according to US State Department figures.

SEE ALSO:  Cocaine Production Coverage

So far in 2016 authorities have destroyed 2,670 drug processing laboratories, while 1,653 members of criminal organizations have been "neutralized" -- arrested, killed, or surrendered -- Santos added. Last week police killed two regional commanders of the Urabeños, the largest of the country's neo-paramilitary groups (known in Spanish as bandas criminales - BACRIM).

Santos said authorities have also carried out 386 operations against illegal mining this year, destroying 211 pieces of heavy machinery. He said the national homicide rate was 25.9 per 100,000 over the past 12 months, the lowest in 40 years.

InSight Crime Analysis

As is usually the case with seizure statistics, it is hard to tell whether Colombia's record figures indicate improving interdiction efforts or rising drug production. However, there have been growing indications over the past two years that Colombia's cocaine trade is soaring.

In 2015 the country reclaimed its title as the world's number one coca cultivator, with hectares under coca cultivation growing to their highest level since 2007. This increase has been attributed to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) encouraging coca farmers to plant more crops as they prepare to demobilize, as well as more lenient eradication policies.

SEE ALSO:  Coca Coverage

Meanwhile, Colombia's main criminal groups continue to defy authorities by coordinating huge drug shipments and expanding into strategic drug trafficking territories.

Security forces are thought to seize about a tenth of a country's total illegal drug flow, which suggests that Colombia's yearly cocaine output could be even higher than estimated. The US government estimated Colombia's 2015 potential cocaine production at 420 metric tons, while the latest United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) figures available estimated (pdf) world cocaine production at between 700 and 1,000 metric tons a year from 1990 to 2008.

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.

Tags

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

COLOMBIA / 13 JUL 2017

Colombia's government has declared an ambitious plan to eradicate 100,000 hectares of coca crops by the end of the year,…

COLOMBIA / 15 MAR 2018

InSight Crime's co-director Jeremy McDermott and Senior Investigator Deborah Bonello dug into our latest report this week -- ‘The Invisibles’:…

COLOMBIA / 5 DEC 2013

Homicides in Colombia have fallen more than nine percent in the last year continuing a national long term trend, but…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…

THE ORGANIZATION

Exploring Climate Change and Organized Crime

10 SEP 2021

In July, InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley moderated a panel for the Climate Reality Project's regional series of workshops for young climate activists in the Americas. The week-long event…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gearing Up a New Class of Interns

3 SEP 2021

InSight Crime is readying its newest class of interns – from universities in Europe and the Americas – to begin investigative work on a number of high-impact projects. For the…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Environmental Crime in the Amazon

27 AUG 2021

Next week, InSight Crime launches an investigation – conducted with Brazilian think-tank the Igarapé Institute – on the sophisticated organized crime structures and armed groups that…