The New Cocaine Trade

Coca leaf in Bolivia. Photo: Marcello Casal Jr./ABr (CC)

Coca leaf in Bolivia. Photo: Marcello Casal Jr./ABr (CC)

John Lyons reports on some seismic shifts in where cocaine is produced, for the Wall Street Journal:

In the dusty town of Villa Tunari in Bolivia’s tropical coca-growing region, farmers used to barricade their roads against U.S.-backed drug police sent to prevent their leafy crop from becoming cocaine. These days, the police are gone, the coca is plentiful and locals close off roads for multiday block parties—not rumbles with law enforcement.

“Today, we don’t have these conflicts, not one death, not one wounded, not one jailed,” said Leonilda Zurita, a longtime coca-grower leader who is now a Bolivian senator, a day after a 13-piece Latin band wrapped up a boozy festival in town.

The cause for celebration is a fundamental shift in the cocaine trade that is complicating U.S. efforts to fight it. Once concentrated in Colombia, a close U.S. ally in combating drugs, the cocaine business is migrating to nations such as Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, where populist leaders are either ambivalent about cooperating with U.S. antidrug efforts or openly hostile to them.

Since 2000, cultivation of coca leaves—cocaine’s raw material—plunged 65% in Colombia, to 141,000 acres in 2010, according to United Nations figures. In the same period, cultivation surged more than 40% in Peru, to 151,000 acres, and more than doubled in Bolivia, to 77,000 acres.

More important, Bolivia and Peru are now making street-ready cocaine, whereas they once mostly supplied raw ingredients for processing in Colombia. In 2010, Peru may have passed Colombia as the world’s biggest producer, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Between 2009 and 2010, Peru’s potential to produce cocaine grew 44%, to 325 metric tons. In 2010, Colombia’s potential production was 270 metric tons…

[continues in the Wall Street Journal]

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  • Eric_D_Read

    Not a big fan of coke personally, but three cheers for Bolivia nonetheless.. 

    • Anti_Secret_Squirrel

      Cheers to them also!

  • Anonymous

    Not a big fan of coke personally, but three cheers for Bolivia nonetheless.. 

  • Anonymous

    Cheers to them also!

  • Anonymous

    Cheers to them also!

  • Carlbrentwood

    Translation: The CIA and the DEA finally negotiated their ‘cut of the pie’ and set up their ops stateside to regulate the potential influx of new cocaine.  I guess Bolivian president Evo Morales must have lightened his stance against drugs as well.  But then again anyone would when you have a gun held to your head

    • Writeous

      Bingo!

    • PlantFan

      Maybe you havent been paying attention, but Bolivia recently “legalized” coca farming.  No conspiracy theory needed.

      • MrSta

        PlantFan- this be no place for facts. Cease and desist.

  • Carlbrentwood

    Translation: The CIA and the DEA finally negotiated their ‘cut of the pie’ and set up their ops stateside to regulate the potential influx of new cocaine.  I guess Bolivian president Evo Morales must have lightened his stance against drugs as well.  But then again anyone would when you have a gun held to your head

  • Thefox

    its a hell of a drug?

  • Thefox

    its a hell of a drug?

  • http://twitter.com/PostConsumerWat Davi Jame

    I’m glad that they are not suffering as a result of our made in the USA drug war….

  • http://twitter.com/PostConsumerWat Davi Jame

    I’m glad that they are not suffering as a result of our made in the USA drug war….

  • Writeous

    Bingo!

  • PlantFan

    Maybe you havent been paying attention, but Bolivia recently “legalized” coca farming.  No conspiracy theory needed.

  • MrSta

    PlantFan- this be no place for facts. Cease and desist.

  • Anonymous

    There is likely a hell of a lot of distort going on. Bolivia cocaine is largely in leaf form or as a carbonated drink http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1348949/Coca-drink-gives-Bolivia-new-energy-fight-overturn-UN-narcotics-ban.html.
    Wall Street Journal now a Fox not-News propaganda rag, is likely paving the way for greater hostility between the US and South American countries and Union of South American Countries http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_of_South_American_Nations.
    The US has a history of working to achieve destabilisation in the region leaving it ripe for exploitation by US corporation. This became very noticable when South American countries started avoiding US influence and it became apparent the closer the ties to the US the worse off the country was.
    So new the cause for American military adventurism in South America cocaine, you spotted it first in the Wall Street Journal.

  • rtb61

    There is likely a hell of a lot of distort going on. Bolivia cocaine is largely in leaf form or as a carbonated drink http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1348949/Coca-drink-gives-Bolivia-new-energy-fight-overturn-UN-narcotics-ban.html.
    Wall Street Journal now a Fox not-News propaganda rag, is likely paving the way for greater hostility between the US and South American countries and Union of South American Countries http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_of_South_American_Nations.
    The US has a history of working to achieve destabilisation in the region leaving it ripe for exploitation by US corporation. This became very noticable when South American countries started avoiding US influence and it became apparent the closer the ties to the US the worse off the country was.
    So new the cause for American military adventurism in South America cocaine, you spotted it first in the Wall Street Journal.