Colombian police poking around a shipment of bricks bound for Honduras last month discovered half a tonne of cocaine hidden within the cargo. Such discoveries were once commonplace: in 2000 Colombia grew 74% of the world’s coca leaves, the raw ingredient for cocaine. But these days it has fallen behind. The UN believes that in 2011 Colombia produced about 42% of the world’s coca, only slightly more than Peru. And last year a White House report concluded that when it comes to the production of cocaine itself, Colombia has now fallen behind both Peru and Bolivia. [...]
by Anthony Papa / Huffington post
The Brazilian Congress is debating a controversial bill, authored by Rep. Osmar Terra (PMDB-RS), which among other setbacks proposes increasing the minimum penalty required from 5 to 8 years for drug-related crimes. History has shown that this is the wrong way to go — and for evidence of this, it’s instructive to look to the U.S., where draconian “mandatory minimum” sentencing led to an explosion in the country’s prison population.
In the 1980s and ’90s the U.S. relied on tougher sentencing laws and mandatory sentencing — which did nothing to reduce [...]
Juan Forero / Washington post
GUAJARA-MIRIM, Brazil — The cocaine that anti-drug officials say is flooding into Brazil these days comes from neighboring Bolivia, in small planes that make 20-minute flights, in luggage ferried into river ports and in small dugout canoes that make clandestine trips in the middle of the night.
But in hamlets such as this one, Brazilian federal police officers try to stem the flow by urging villagers to report the suspicious activity on the 2,126-mile frontier with Bolivia, one longer than the U.S.-Mexico border. And in a speedboat, others patrol the Mamore River [...]
By MANUEL RUEDA / ABC
The United Nations Convention on Narcotic Drugs readmitted Bolivia into its fold on Friday, universally recognizing the right of Bolivians to chew the coca leaf. This gives President Evo Morales one of his most important victories thus far in his global efforts to decriminalize the coca leaf.
Bolivia had voluntary withdrawn from the UN group a year ago because it classified the coca leaf as an “illicit drug.” On Friday, however, a majority of the convention’s members voted to allow Bolivia back into the committee and also approved a statute which [...]
By WILLIAM NEUMAN / New York Times
TODOS SANTOS, Bolivia — There is nothing clandestine about Julián Rojas’s coca plot, which is tucked deep within acres of banana groves. It has been mapped with satellite imagery, cataloged in a government database, cross-referenced with his personal information and checked and rechecked by the local coca growers’ union. The same goes for the plots worked by Mr. Rojas’s neighbors and thousands of other farmers in this torrid region east of the Andes who are licensed by the Bolivian government to grow coca, the plant used to make cocaine.
A Bolivian radio presenter was set on fire by four masked men while hosting his show in the southern city of Yacuiba.
Radio Popular journalist Fernando Vidal, 78, is being treated for burns after his attackers broke into the studio, poured petrol over him and set him alight.
Studio technician Karen Anza was also injured in the attack which some eyewitnesses claim involved Molotov cocktails.
His son-in-law, Esteban Farfan says Mr Vidal has suffered burns to his face, arms and chest.
Three people have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the attack.
Mr. Vidal was reporting [...]
For the fourth year running, Washington accused all three countries of having “failed demonstrably” to fight the drug trade.
But President Barack Obama’s administration noted that Myanmar, which has been blacklisted since 2002 and is the world’s second largest cultivator of opium poppy, has made significant strides this year in joining the international fight against illegal drugs.
Myanmar officials have already destroyed more than three times the amount of opium poppy lands as they did last year, according to the president’s annual memorandum to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that helps set US drug policy.
The country [...]