Police burned over 200,000 marijuana plants in plantations in central Peru, in the biggest ever operation against the drug crop.
According to Peru’s Interior Minister, Wilfredo Pedraza, the 50 tons of marijuana destroyed in the five-day operation amounted to 17 times more than the police had destroyed in the whole of 2011, the BBC reported. The destroyed crop, valued at $15 million in the US market, represents a record for the Peruvian National Police, according to La Republica.
Pedraza said the operation, dubbed “Moño Rojo” (Red Bow), was evidence of the success of the government’s intensified fight against drug trafficking. It began on July 27, and covered sites in the central regions of La Libertad and Huanuco. (See Reuters' video report on the operation, below.)
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Although Peru is most notorious for its coca production, some reports indicate that marijuana growing in Peru has been on the rise in recent years.
The United Nations' International Narcotics Control Board’s (INCB) 2011 annual report called on the Peruvian government to examine a trend of increased cannabis herb seizures. The US State Department's 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report indicated a rise in cannabis seizures in recent years, but noted that the total area of cultivation is still unknown.
Last month, the police destroyed 34,000 marijuana crops in Huanuco.
Milton Rojas of the Peruvian Center for Information and Education for the Prevention of Drug Abuse (CEDRO) told the BBC that domestic consumption drives most marijuana production in Peru and that unconfirmed accounts indicated that the plants were being grown alongside coca crops.