Peru Aims for Record Coca Eradication in 2013

By Dialogo
January 16, 2013

Peru aims to eradicate a record 22,000 hectares (54,400 acres) of illegal coca crops in 2013, Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza announced on January 14.

“The goal reflects the fact that the government of President Ollanta Humala has a strong policy to combat drug trafficking, and is proposing to exceed all historic records in this fight,” Pedraza said.

For the first time ever, the new plan targets areas in the cocaine-rich Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers valley.

The government says local drug traffickers work in the area along with remnants of the Maoist Shining Path group, which waged a brutal insurgency in the country in the 1980s and 1990s.

Coca grows exclusively in the eastern slopes of the South American Andes mountain range.

Eradication activities are also planned for the regions of Huanuco, Pasco, San Martin and Ucayali.

While the United Nations says Peru is the world’s second largest producer of coca leaf after Colombia, it is the world’s top producer of cocaine, according to 2011 figures from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Peru hopes to prevent the replanting and expansion of coca-producing areas, and create and reinforce socioeconomic programs that facilitate alternative development.

Peru’s DEVIDA counternarcotics agency said that authorities had eradicated 14,171 hectares of coca crops in 2012, exceeding the target of 14,000.

Cocaine is produced by soaking coca leaves in ponds with kerosene, gasoline and other chemicals, including hydrochloric acid and ammonia. A solution from the leaves is then filtered, refined and crystallized.