Colombia produced 710 metric tons of cocaine last year, up from 235 metric tons in 2013, according to a new report.
After a peace deal was reached between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, and the Colombian government, the production and flow of cocaine from the country have almost tripled, according to a report by the Independent.
It’s been 17 years since the U.S. government launched a US$10 billion counter-narcotics project known as Plan Colombia, and according to the Colombian government, the country produced 710 metric tons of cocaine last year, up from 235 metric tons in 2013.
The nation is covered with more than 460,000 acres of coca, according to the report, the largest figure in the country’s history, surpassing that of former drug lord Pablo Escobar’s epoch.
“We’ve never seen anything like it before,” Colombia’s defense minister Luis Carlos Villegas told the Independent. “Frankly, we don’t believe violence is the right instrument to rid Colombia of coca.”
Colombian officials have since implemented a strategy that offers cash incentives so that rural communities can switch to alternative crops. After the FARC signed the peace deal, it pledged to work with coca farmers, who were under their control, to plant alternative cash crops like coffee and cocoa.
Cocaine overdose deaths in U.S. have reached a 10-year high, and those who say they’ve used the drug for the first time also rose by 61 percent between 2013 and 2015, according to the latest report by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
According to the government, Colombian security agencies working the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency ‘have seized’ 115 metric tons of cocaine in the first four months of 2017.
Top officials agree that the end of the war with the FARC has made the drug fight more difficult. The peace accord signed last year by the Colombian government and the FARC rebels ended their 52-year internal war.
The cash benefits from that same peace process have translated into an incentive for farmers to actually grow more illegal plants and saturate the cocaine market.