President Ollanta Humala claimed Tuesday that Peru is no longer the world’s top producer of coca, the raw material used to make cocaine.
Humala said Peru had dropped its production level thanks to anti-drug strategies that include coca eradication programs and the seizure of chemical precursors used to produce coca paste.
“The measures that we are taking have allowed us to improve our indexes in fighting drug trafficking and to leave [our position] as the world’s first exporter of cocaine and the first producer of coca for drug trafficking,” Humala said, according to daily La Republica.
Humala’s statements were also reported by state-news agency Andina and the state newspaper El Peruano.
Other governments and agencies that track cocaine production – mainly the United States and the United Nations – have not issued any statements on whether Peru is still the world’s top coca producer.
The US and the UN both say that Peru overtook Colombia in recent years as the world’s top producer of coca and cocaine, as the US-funded Plan Colombia pushed traffickers south over the border into Peru and coca growers and traffickers in Peru spread south to the valleys of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro river valleys, known strategically as the VRAEM.
Peru has stepped up its forced eradication of coca crops, destroying a record number last year — 30,349 hectares by November 2014, according to daily La Republica, significantly more than the 24,000 hectares eradicated in 2013, which was also an annual record and up 68 percent from 2012.
Most of Peru’s drugs are flown out of the country via small, airplanes that fly to Bolivia and then onto markets in other South American nations and to Europe. Another popular route for the trafficking of drugs is in cargo that is shipped through maritime ports.