Cocaine Addiction Information
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cocaThe world’s top cocaine-producing country is under fire, but they go undaunted.

Peruvian government forces have taken to dynamiting clandestine airstrips used by cocaine traffickers to export the drug to Bolivia. To the lucrative industry that produces 450 tons of cocaine a year, however, this “cratering” does nothing to stop the flights that earn pilots $10,000 to $25,000 per trip.

Stronger than Dynamite

Colombia and Mexico may be the most notorious countries when it comes to cocaine trafficking, but since 2012 Peru has topped the charts as the number one cocaine producer. Many believe that the reason for this was an increase in the use of the air bridge between Peru and Bolivia one year prior. Nearly half of the country’s cocaine gets flown to Bolivia, where it is refined and shipped out as product, usually to Europe or Brazil.

With profits like theirs, a bit of government dynamite doesn’t appear to faze them. Traffickers hire local villagers at $100 each to fill the holes caused by the blastings, and the flights continue. A trip from Peru to Bolivia results in the transport of 300 kilograms of coca paste and, in exchange, a third of a million dollars. These trips occur four to five times a day.

The Conundrum of the Peruvian Government

Government forces stopped shooting down suspected flights in 2001when a US missionary group was mistakenly shot down, but perhaps desperate times call for desperate measures because they are considering re-starting the practice. Because air forces are limited, they typically only intercept drug flights on the ground. Only 14 planes have been seized so far this year.

Bolivian and Peruvian officials have teamed up even more recently, agreeing to use better coordination on cross-border drug flights. The amount of corruption within the Peruvian government, however, leads to a lot of turned cheeks and wrong targets. Rather than taking on the larger South American drug cartels, they make small victories with easy targets. And several politicians in Peru have been arrested on account of their involvement with the drug trade.

The Balloon Effect in South America

Why the surge in cocaine trafficking in Peru?

In the world of drug enforcement, there is a phenomenon known as the “balloon effect.” Every time officials crack down on one area, it is never eliminated but merely squeezed into another location. This is what occurred in 2012, when the US War on Drugs led to extreme measures in Colombia. US-funded planes sprayed coca fields with weed killer, leading to more promising numbers in Colombia but a booming industry in Peru.

As a result, Peruvian jails are running at more than 200 percent their capacity. Most of the inmates have been incarcerated for drug trafficking.

While most of the Peruvian drug cartels are controlled by local clans, members of Mexican cartels work in Peru to collect the drugs.

Other Measures

Peruvian officials have also taken to manually pulling out coca plants and encouraging use of the land to grow legal crops such as coffee. They have also restricted the availability of the chemicals used to produce cocaine.

While cocaine growers do what they can to re-grow their crops, the Peruvian government was able to get rid of 27,000 acres of coca leaf in the first quarter of 2014.

Authorities are also doing more to crack down on smugglers attempting to carry cocaine on commercial planes, as well as the boats that carry large amounts from ports in the Pacific Ocean.