Peru and Ecuador sign cooperation agreement to combat drug trafficking

Peru and Ecuador signed a cooperation agreement Friday to combat drug trafficking and drug-related crimes such as smuggling and money laundering, and to develop a program for preventative alternative development in Ecuador.

The agreement, which comes on the heels of a conference held in June in Tumbes on Peru-Ecuador prevention, interdiction, and other illegal drug control functions, was signed between Peru’s National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs, or Devida, and Ecuador’s National Council for the Control of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances, Consep.

“What’s important about this agreement,” said Rómulo Pizarro, the director of Devida, “is that Peruvian drug prevention and alternative integral and sustainable development technicians experts will help Consep in preparing Ecuador’s National Drug Control Strategy for 2009-2012.”

Although Ecuador does not have a tradition of coca production or consumption, in recent years it has become a country of transit, storage and distribution for drug traffickers.

“Colombia, Peru and Bolivia are drug-producing countries,” said Pizarro. “Ecuador is mainly a drug-transiting country, but it also has problems with other drugs, such as synthetic drugs.”

“And a lot of basic paste for cocaine is going back and forth on the border,” he added.

As problems of violence and drug trafficking in Peru and Colombia have spread into Ecuador’s southern and northern border areas, the agreement aims to develop a program for preventative alternative development in Ecuador.

Though Ecuador has a tradition of legal crop production, neglect by governments and the balloon effect, or the illegal drug industry’s tendency to shift elsewhere and sometimes to smaller and harder-to-reach plots in response to local eradication campaigns, has heightened vulnerability to the arrival of illegal crops, such as coca.

The program, which tackles productive development, environmental conservation and social infrastructure, will be designed to promote sustainable, economic, social and environmental development in an effort to prevent the spread of drug consumption and trafficking.

The agreement also provides for joint efforts to standardize a list of chemical substances and their by-products, strengthen surveillance at the border and to promote legal crops, such as bananas, cocoa and coffee, on foreign markets.

Research will also be undertaken by Peruvian and Ecuadorian regional governments – in Peru’s Tumbes, Cajamarca, Amazonas and Piura departments – to evaluate the demand for drugs and the needs of people living in the border region.

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