Bogota, Oct 26 (efe-epa).- The Colombian government said Monday that authorities have eradicated more than 98,000 hectares of coca, exceeding the 94,670 hectares eradicated last year, and highlighted that seizures of cocaine have increased by 13 percent.
“As of Oct. 24, we eradicated 98,056 hectares of coca in the country. It is an important figure, since it exceeds the total eradication throughout 2019,” Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said in a statement from his office.
During a visit in ??the municipality of Caucasia, in the department of Antioquia, where work to eradicate coca is carried out, Minister Trujillo valued the work of the Army and the eradicators, despite the “violence and brutality used by organized armed groups at the service of drug trafficking rings, with the use of antipersonnel mines and snipers.”
An annual report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published in June in Bogotá said coca crops in Colombia fell 9 percent last year, going from 169,000 hectares planted in 2018 to 154,000.
Colombian President, Iván Duque, then said that the decrease shows the interruption of the growth trend of coca crops, which reached a record of 171,000 hectares in 2017, and valued it as the best percentage decrease of the last six years.
Minister Trujillo also highlighted that as of October 15, the actions of the authorities have made it possible to dismantle 4,215 laboratories in which illicit drugs were processed.
He explained that in October, Anti-narcotics Police located and destroyed 232 drug laboratories in the departments of Cauca, Caquetá and in Putumayo, on the border with Ecuador.
“Our jungle commandos, as well as intelligence and judicial police personnel, is gaining ground in the destruction of this infrastructure that, on many occasions, is located by drug trafficking groups in indigenous reserves, endangering communities and violating their rights,” Trujillo added.
On the other hand, he said that in terms of interception, cocaine seizures increased by 13 percent this year, with 388 tons seized between Jan. 1 and Oct. 15, compared to the same period in 2019.
“Marijuana seizures have also increased by 38 percent, from 310 tons in 2019 to 427 in 2020,” said Minister Trujillo.
He said the government continues to advance in the process to reactivate aerial spraying with the herbicide glyphosate that was suspended five years ago and assured that this will allow “a significant reduction in the area with illegal crops in Colombia.” EFE