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HOT TOPICS: Drug and Alcohol Treatment  Heroin

Bolivia Now Makes More Coke From Fewer Plantations

A more efficient production process means that total cocaine production rises, even plantation numbers fall.

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A woman gathering coca leaves in Chimoré,
Bolivia. Photo via

By McCarton Ackerman

07/16/12

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When it comes to cocaine plantations, Bolivia is focusing less on quantity and more on quality these days. That's according to the US government, which says the country is producing more cocaine despite fewer coca plantations—because drug traffickers are now using the "Colombian method," a more efficient production process. Despite eradication efforts from 2009-2011, this process, coupled with the practice of resowing "eradicated" plantations, has meant the total amount of powder produced keeps rising. "That is the paradox in Bolivia. There are fewer coca plantations in the past three years, but there's more production of cocaine," says the outgoing chief of the US diplomatic mission in La Paz, charge d'affaires John Creamer. "They...can obtain more cocaine with lesser quantities of coca leaves." Creamer's figures show that only one percent of cocaine seized in the US comes from Bolivia (95% still comes from Colombia). But Bolivia supplies about 60% of the cocaine that enters Brazil, which is suffering a crack epidemic. Creamer will experience that end of the problem when he takes up his next post: US consul in Rio de Janeiro.

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