Colombia no longer top cocaine producer

3:36 PM, Jul 30, 2012   |    comments
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By Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY

Colombia is no longer the world's biggest producer of cocaine.

White House drug czar R. Gil Kerlikowske announced on Monday that Colombia - the origin of much of the cocaine trafficked into the United States - fell behind Peru and Bolivia in production of cocaine in 2011. The latest estimate puts Colombia's production at 195 metric tons, a 25% reduction from the previous year and down from 700 metric tons in 2001.

Peru accounted for 325 tons and Bolivia for 265 metric tons, according to the latest White House estimates.

The White House is crediting Colombia with strengthening democratic institutions, focusing on eradication, law enforcement stepping up targeting drug trafficking organizations, and increased foreign investment. Kerlikowske also noted Americans consumption of cocaine has dropped by 39% since 2006, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

"Clearly reducing supply is incredibly helpful in reducing the demand here in the United States," Kerlikowske said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington on Monday. "The second thing that I think that is really important is the educational efforts - that are often not given the credit reducing the level of consumption in the United States."

Kerlikowske's comments come as President Obama pushes for $10 billion for drug education programs and drug treatment in the 2013 budget. Obama has already spent $30 billion over the past three years on drug use prevention and treatment programs.

Kerlikowske noted that prescription drug abuse kills more Americans than cocaine and heroin combined, but said that there is little evidence that drug users are "moving away from cocaine" to use prescription drugs.

"It was a sustained effort for nearly a decade - steady strategic pressure across more than one administration in both the United States and Colombia," he said. "It didn't happen (due) solely to the efforts by the United States. This was a partnership by the United States and Colombia."

USA TODAY

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