Here are our most up-to-date statistics on the War on Drugs in Colombia, looking at the past decade’s experience from several different angles. Click on each graphic to see a bigger version.
Aid to Colombia Since 2000:
- Military and Police Assistance: $5.18 billion (77%).
- Economic and Social Assistance: $1.53 billion (23%).
- Total: $6.71 billion.
- Currently, roughly two-thirds of military and police aid is used for counter-narcotics purposes.
- At least 53,888 military and police personnel trained (2000-2006).
- Over 90 helicopters granted.
- Over 20 spray planes granted.
- 1,120,706 hectares (2,767,580 acres) fumigated aerially with herbicides.
- 246,515 hectares (609,152 acres) manually eradicated (2004-2008).
- Increased cocaine seizures, with a record level in 2008
The Counter-Drug Results:
- Coca cultivation, in Colombia and the Andes, is little changed.
U.S. estimate of coca cultivation:
UNODC estimate of coca cultivation:
Eradication progress in one department is canceled out by increased coca-growing in other departments.
- Cocaine production, in Colombia and the Andes, is little changed.
U.S. estimate of cocaine production:
UNODC estimate of cocaine production:
- The estimated farm-gate price of coca base or coca paste has not increased.
UNODC estimate of coca paste/base prices:
- The estimated price of cocaine sold within Colombia has not increased significantly.
Note: the perceived increase in 2007 owes in part to the U.S. dollar’s sharp devaluation against the Colombian peso in that year.
- The estimated price of cocaine sold on the streets of the United States has not increased significantly. According to the U.S. government, reports of a price increase in 2007-2008 are not due to any reduction in Andean cocaine supplies. They have been caused by disruption of Mexican transshipment routes.
Sources: U.S. government data compiled by the Washington Office on Latin America and presented by the DEA . The U.S. government changed measurement methodology – and the contractor hired to measure cocaine prices – after 2003Q2.
According to the U.S. Justice Department’s December 2008 National Drug Threat Assessment:
The estimated amount of cocaine that departed South America toward the United States in 2007 was only slightly higher than the revised 2006 estimate. … Intelligence and law enforcement reporting indicates that the decrease [in U.S. cocaine availability] likely is the result of several simultaneous factors that obstructed the flow of cocaine from South America through Mexico to U.S. drug markets. The likely factors include several exceptionally large cocaine seizures made while the drug was in transit toward the United States, counterdrug efforts by the Mexican Government, U.S. law enforcement operations along the Southwest Border, a high level of intercartel violence in Mexico, and expanding cocaine markets in Europe and South America.
- The percentage of the U.S. population consuming cocaine has not changed since the early 1990s.
All of these metrics indicate clear failure, despite heavy U.S. and Colombian investment – in money and lives – in a decades-long effort to reduce cocaine supplies coming from Colombia. The argument in favor of a new drug policy could hardly be stronger.