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Latin America: New Report Says Colombian Cocaine Production Seriously Underestimated

"For a long time, the statistics on eradication of illicit crops have been mistaken. It's incredible that nobody has realized that Colombia produces much more cocaine than the reports say," said Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos back in June.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/eradication.jpg
eradication: much pain, no gain
He was responding to the release of report on his country's cocaine production conducted by US, UN, and Colombian experts at the request of the Colombian government. Now, the Colombian newsweekly Cambio has published an article based on that report, and the rest of us get to understand what Santos was talking about.

According to the report, the UN, the US, and the Colombian National Police have all seriously underestimated total cocaine production in the country, currently the world's leading cocaine producer. The Colombian police estimate was 497 tons in 2005, while the US estimated 545 tons, and the UN estimated 640 tons. But the authors of this most recent report estimate that cocaine production last year was actually a staggering 776 tons, or nearly half again as much as the US or Colombian police estimates.

The Colombians undertook the new survey after noticing that despite massive seizures of tons of cocaine, the price of the drug stayed stable. Investigators visited 1,400 coca growers and ran tests at more than 400 plantations. They found that growers had improved their growing techniques and were now able to produce not four harvests per year, but six.

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cocaine bricks (source: US DEA)
According to Cambio, "That explained why the strategies designed to confront the phenomenon have not produced the expected results and the drug trade is flourishing as much or more than before."

The research results raised questions about the effectiveness of the much-criticized aerial fumigation program financed by the United States. Colombian and US officials had suggested the lack of results from spraying herbicides was because traffickers had large stocks of cocaine warehoused. "Without a doubt, that's a big mistake," Colombian anti-drug police subdirector Carlos Medina told Cambio. "The narcos don’t need to store cocaine because the market demands coca and more coca."

The US has about $5 billion invested in this farce so far. One can't help but wonder when the politicians in Washington will notice all those tax dollars going down the rat hole.

Drug Trade Hurting Mexican Environmental Efforts -- Prohibition to Blame

A piece in Mexico's El Universal called illegal drugs the "root of evil for conservationists." From deforestation in Chihuahua's Copper Canyon by marijuana and opium growers to make way for their crops, to cocaine dumping near the fragile reef nurseries in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico by traffickers, writer Talli Nauman laments:
The black market in narcotics wreaks havoc with the ecosystem. This happens wherever illegal substances are produced, where they are processed, along their shipping routes, in the drug-money laundering process, and in the operations to squelch the underground economy. Not to mention the establishment of furtive channels for species trafficking along the way.
Drug traffickers are even diversifying into the illegal wildlife trade in protected species, and using legally traded animals to hide opium and cocaine, sometimes resulting in the animal's death. You think I'm about to complain that the article made no mention of the idea that legalization could end these problems or at least seriously mitigate them by subjecting the trade to regulation. The growers cut down forests because they've been chased away from other places by the authorities. Shippers dump cocaine, presumably, because they are about to get caught and imprisoned if they don't. Drug traffickers have the money to invest in other businesses like wildlife trafficking because they made so much money selling drugs. These are all consequences of prohibition and the war on drugs in its current form. I'm not going to complain, though, because Nauman actually raised the issue, albeit briefly near the end:
If narcotics are decriminalized, then the black market might cave in, and along with it the smuggling relationships that undermine conservation efforts.
She then goes on to make some suggestions about things to do in the meanwhile. But she mentioned the idea. Perhaps it's because she is Mexican and Latin America has far more people who are rational about the drug issue and willing to speak publicly about legalization. See our Out from the Shadows conference archive for reporting, interviews and video from some of them. How especially embarassing, then, the reaction in the US to Mexico's attempt to do so low-level decriminalization of drug use earlier this year, that President Fox was going to sign until the US pressured him not to. US cable mouthpieces like Lou Dobbs ridiculed the move as outrageous and actually seemed to believe what they were saying -- how very, very embarassing.
Location: 
Mexico

Mother Nature Implicated in Massive Marijuana Grow-Op

Your tax dollars at work:

From the The Norman Transcript
A call from a concerned farmer in southeast Norman led Cleveland County Sheriff's Department deputies and Norman police officers to a field of 8,889 "wild" marijuana plants growing on private property early Monday morning. The plants ranged in size from 3 feet to 9 feet tall and would have a street value of up to $1,000 each, or around $8 million total, if allowed to grow and be harvested in the coming months, said Captain Doug Blaine, of the Cleveland County Sheriff's Department.

Now I’m not surprised about the plants. Feral hemp, also known as ditchweed, is indigenous to the region. The shocker here is that these officers, in a fit of unbelievable idiocy, actually attempted to place a street value on it. Ditchweed doesn’t get you high! It’s as worthless as the dirt it was yanked from.

And so it appears we may have stumbled upon the most absurd over-estimation of a marijuana crop’s value in the whole stupid history of bored police officers over-estimating the value of marijuana crops.

But you can’t fault the “concerned farmer” who called it in. With Captain Doug Blaine calling the shots, I’d kill every plant in my yard just to be on the safe side.

Yet despite its abundance of ill-informed sensationalism, this article ironically fails to mention the real danger posed by the feral hemp plant. Any commercial marijuana growing in proximity to such a sizable crop of ditchweed stands a strong chance of becoming pollinated by its impotent cousin. The result would be hybridized marijuana of extremely poor quality.

Thankfully, marijuana enthusiasts and bored Oklahoma police can agree on one thing: the ditchweed’s gotta go.

Location: 
United States

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