The percentage of drug-using youths in Honduras who consume crack cocaine has risen from five to 60 percent over the past 10 years, according to one organization, reflecting a regional trend of increased consumption of cheap, addictive street drugs.
According to Mario Fumero, the coordinator of drug rehabilitation program Project Victoria, the population using cocaine and crack has also gotten younger, with children now consuming such drugs at the age of 13, while 10 years ago, users were 18 and older, reported La Prensa.
Fumero also claimed cocaine use among drug users had almost doubled, particularly in the country's northwest, home to Honduras' second-largest city San Pedro Sula, also the most violent city in the world. According to Fumero, this region is where the majority of Honduras' drug addicts are concentrated.
Project Victoria Director Rosa Aguilera said that 10 new drug addicts -- many addicted to crack -- were being seen each week in San Pedro Sula, where the organization has recently opened a new rehabilitation center.
InSight Crime Analysis
Crack cocaine is a highly addictive form of crude cocaine that is smokable, gives an intense but brief high, and can cause severe health problems. In 2012, the director of Honduras' drug prevention institute (Ihadfa), Rony Portillo, said crack users represented four percent of the Honduran population, and that four percent of high school students used crack.
The use of crude forms of cocaine has risen dramatically in parts of Latin America in recent years. Cocaine base use rose 200 percent in Argentina between 2001 and 2005, and the amount of crack confiscated by Brazilian police has more than doubled between 2006 and 2009.
The ease and low cost of production makes cocaine base particularly marketable in poor urban areas, as detailed by InSight Crime. It has become more available partly because transnational criminal organizations have turned towards domestic markets in order to make a profit, as seen in Mexico and Colombia.
Meanwhile, Honduras has a serious problem with street gangs, is home to transnational organized crime groups such as the Zetas, and is a principal cocaine exchange point for Mexican and Colombian cartels, all factors likely to facilitate a rise in the consumption of cocaine and crack.