Cocaine production hits record high as post-Covid demand picks up in Europe

© Schneyder Mendoza, AFP

Global production of cocaine has jumped dramatically over the past two years following an initial slowdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the first report dedicated to the global cocaine market from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Cultivation of coca, the leaves of which are used to make the drug, reached a record high by soaring 35% from 2020 to 2021, the report released on Wednesday said.

Bolivia, Colombia and Peru – which have historically dominated the production of coca leaves – altogether cultivated an area of more than 300,000 hectares in 2021, UNODC said.

Once harvested, a paste obtained by mixing chopped leaves with lime, cement, gasoline, and ammonium sulfate, is usually taken elsewhere to be turned into cocaine.

"The surge in the global cocaine supply should put all of us on high alert," says UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly.

New trafficking routes

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