Report notes decrease in Colombian cocaine production

By Heather Walsh
Friday, December 10, 2010; 12:59 AM

Colombia, the world's biggest supplier of cocaine, saw production of the illegal narcotic decline last year amid a government spraying campaign and declining U.S. consumption, according to a report.

Colombia's capacity to produce pure cocaine fell by 10 tons to 270 metric tons in 2009 from a year earlier, and compared with about 700 tons in 2001, the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy said Thursday in an e-mailed statement.

Cocaine production in Colombia fell to less than half the world's total last year, when Peru surpassed the nation in cultivation of the drug's base ingredient, the coca leaf, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said in June.

Colombia, backed by more than $600 million in annual U.S. anti-narcotics aid, has stepped up drug eradication efforts this decade and intensified its campaign against drug-funded guerrilla groups.

Cocaine production in neighboring Peru rose last year, to 225 metric tons, while output in Bolivia remained stable at 195 metric tons, according to the statement by the White House drug czar. Europe may be one of the main markets of both nations, the United States said.

Cocaine use in the United States is declining even as consumption of other drugs increased in 2009 from two years earlier, according to the statement.

As eradication and law enforcement efforts increase, traffickers are diluting the drug, the drug czar said. Purity of cocaine seized in bulk shipments in the United States declined 14 percent from 2006 to 2010. Colombia supplies about 95 percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States.

The Colombian government says the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is the country's biggest cocaine trafficker, and dozens of its commanders have been indicted on smuggling charges by the United States.

- Bloomberg News

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