VICE Series: Peru, the new King of Coca

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VICE Series: Peru, the new King of Coca

Move over Colombia, there’s a new king in town.

When someone talks about the modern origins of cocaine, it is the iconic movie Scar Face, and thoughts of Columbia that spring to mind. However, whilst Colombia was once the capital of cocaine production, the US led War on Drugs has caused a geographical shift to a new centre of production - namely Peru.

In their new series, VICE News head to Peru to get the lowdown on the new king of this illicit drug. It is predicted that Peru now hosts up to 60,000 hectares of coca plantations (the plant that cocaine is made from), which can produce up to 320 metric tonnes of cocaine – worth nearly $28 billion on the street. All of this is being grown and refined in the largely ungoverned jungles, creating an industry that is almost impossible to track and shutdown in its entirety. It is from these jungles that Peruvian cocaine is flown to the rest of the world, to be sold in night clubs and bars.

It shows how the trade of narcotics have made a monumental global shift, and how the War on Drugs has failed once again. How has it failed you may ask? Well, as politicians celebrate the “success” of vastly reducing cocaine production in Colombia, the production hasn’t actually been eliminated. It is what is known as the “squeezed balloon effect” – when you squeeze part of a partially inflated balloon to reduce its size, the air is simply moved elsewhere, making another area of the balloon bigger. This is happening with drugs, when one country stamps on its problem, the drugs simply appear in another country.

The VICE Series

The VICE series itself explores the Peruvian government’s efforts to eliminate the burgeoning cocaine trade that has established itself in the jungles of Peru, how foreign aid is effecting the situational landscape, and how coca production effects the lives of everyday people – especially those who depend on farming the plant for a livelihood.

Witness below how the recreational party drug that is in such high demand in the West is bringing a country, which is arguably ill-equipped to deal with it, to its knees.