US, Colombia to work together to reduce cocaine supply

US, Colombia to work together to reduce cocaine supply

The U.S. State Department announced Thursday it will work with the government of Colombia to cut in half the amount of cocaine created there by the end of 2023.

As part of a bilateral action plan developed between the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the Government of Colombia, the discussion centered around increasing coca eradication and cocaine interdiction, while improving security and economic opportunities for rural areas affected by narcotics trafficking.

In 2019, the ONDCP estimates, Colombia produces 212,000 hectares, or more than 523,000 acres, of pure coca, up from 208,000 hectares in 2018. The office estimates cocaine production in the country went to 951 metric tons in 2019, up from 879 metric tons in 2018 – a difference of 8 percent.

For comparison, the U.S. Coast Guard seized more than 17 metric tons of cocaine in a drug bust of the coast of Florida last year, valued at $1 billion. That would put the total value of all of Colombia’s cocaine production at over $53 billion, roughly the equivalent of the entire GDP of El Salvador.

Since the election of Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez in August 2018, Colombia and the U.S. have worked together to increase coca eradication. Under Duque, manual eradication has increased by 57.7 percent. Police and military forces have seized or assisted in the seizure of nearly 500 metric tons of cocaine and coca base, the largest amount in Colombian history.

“When President Duque took office in 2018, he was faced with record levels of coca cultivation and cocaine production. With the support of the United States and our close collaboration during his 18 months in office, his policies have resulted in a stabilization of both,” ONDCP Director Jim Carroll said.

The joint action is part of the Trump administration’s work to reduce drug overdose deaths, Carroll said.

“President Trump is focused on continuing to reduce the number of Americans dying of overdoses, and a key part of that mission is working with our international partners to curb the supply of deadly drugs. This upcoming year will be critical, and we look forward to seeing ramped up efforts, including aerial eradication, make a difference in reducing the coca cultivation and production of cocaine, which will eventually save the lives of the American people,” he said.