Cocaine still Colombia drug gangs’ top export

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By LatAm Reports Editor

In Colombia, despite the rising prominence of fentanyl, cocaine continues to be the country’s primary drug export. A senior Colombian police official acknowledged the increasing use of fentanyl, which is cheaper to produce and offers logistical benefits, but emphasized that cocaine still dominates the drug export market.

The surge in fentanyl consumption in the United States has led some, including Colombian President Gustavo Petro, to predict a downturn in cocaine production. Colombia remains the world’s leading producer of cocaine, a drug that has historically financed both left-wing guerrillas and criminal gangs, contributing to the nation’s prolonged internal conflict that has resulted in over 450,000 deaths.

General Nicolas Zapata, the deputy director of Colombia’s national police, highlighted the ongoing efforts in combating the illegal drug trade. He stressed the importance of continued seizures and targeting production, as the industry remains a lucrative source of criminal revenue.

President Petro recently suggested that the increasing use of fentanyl in the U.S. and its spread to other regions, such as Europe, might reduce the demand for cocaine. This shift could potentially create a chance for peace, as Colombia’s illegal armed groups might step away from the cocaine trade.

Despite these speculations, data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime indicates that coca cultivation in Colombia, which is the primary ingredient in cocaine, increased by 13% last year, reaching a record area of 2,300 square kilometers (568,342 acres). Correspondingly, the potential cocaine production escalated by 24% to 1,738 metric tons annually.