The ways of world's largest cocaine producer Colombia are getting wider, and the quantities reach staggering levels.

A farmer cleans a coca crop
A farmer cleans a coca crop in Cauca, Colombia, on Jan. 27, 2017. Photo: Jaime Saldarriaga/Reuters

(— September 22, 2018) — Colombia is still the largest cocaine producer in the world with a record increase in coca plantations and the largest potential for the production of this drug in 2017, UNODC said in a statement.

The latest Colombia Cultivation Survey, produced by the Integrated System for Monitoring Illicit Crops (SIMCI) Project of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), shows an increase of 52% in coca cultivation area – from 96,000 hectares (ha) in 2015 to 146,000 ha in 2016

In 2017, illegal cultivation of coca leaves increased a further 17% to 171,000 hectares, and the production capacity of cocaine increased by 31% compared to 2016 to a total of 1,378 tons, the highest recorded since the start of data management, said the organization in its annual report published in Bogota, the capital of Colombia.

The most affected part of Colombia is the Narinho Department in the southwest, which borders Ecuador on the Pacific coast.
Drug dealers and groups that have separated from former Farc guerrillas (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia) are struggling to control this strategic zone for cocaine exports to the United States.

Colombia is the first country to produce coca and the first in coca production in front of Peru (43,900 hectares) and Bolivia (24,500 hectares), according to the UN.

The ways of cocaine distribution also widened but some bizarre cases are noted. A particular stand out is the Canadian “Instagram” star Rogge, who tried to smuggle cocaine worth millions of dollars to Australia on an exotic cruise. She was caught on with 95 kilograms of cocaine on a  cruiser. Robertson accepted the deal with the Australian Prosecutor’s Office and received eight years in prison.

In Spain, a 92-year-old woman tried to smuggle a Brazilian-made pure cocaine attached to her body, after which the police arrested her and her granddaughter at Madrid airport. Police found 4.3 kg of cocaine in packs attached to old lady’s legs and body, and the girl who was with her was also arrested. The grandmother was later sent to a nursing home in Madrid because of her age and inability to serve a sentence in prison.

In Colombia, the police have a hard time finding all the ways the drug cartels smuggle drugs, especially hidden in heavy materials. Smuggling drugs into old iron in ports has become a long-lasting hit. Police find tons of cocaine in these places, especially in the northern Colombian harbor of Barankville. Drugs hidden in old iron could only be smuggled by the use of heavy machinery, which the narco-clans own.

The street value of some narcotics shipments reaches 200 million Euros.
The Banda del Golfo narco-cartel was labeled as the largest and most dangerous Colombian narco cartel.

In 2016, 18 million people used the illicit drug worldwide, consuming much of the 1,400 tons of cocaine produced in the Andean region.
The demand for the drug comes primarily from the United States and Europe, but South America has also grown into a major consumption market.