Peru coca crop rises for sixth year: UN

Peru's coca crop increased by some 5.2% in 2011, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)—marking the sixth consecutive year that cultivation increased in the Andean nation. Some 64,400 hectares of coca cultivation were detected in satellite images, compared to the estimated 61,200 hectares cultivated in 2010. While the Upper Huallaga Valley and Apurímac-Ene River Valley (VRAE) continued to account for some 50% of Peru's illegal coca crop, the area under cultivation in these zones increased by only 1%. However, cultivation was up by over 40% in northern Peru, with the provinces of Putumayo and Bajo Amazonas (both in Loreto region) especially named—areas newly opened to cultivation, where the government carries out no eradication campaigns. "Drug traffickers are becoming more efficient," said Flavio Mirella, chief of UNODC's Peruvian office, during a presentation of the report in Lima. "Traffickers need less coca leaf to produce more cocaine. Routes of supply are diversifying and producing areas are getting closer to certain routes of exit" toward Bolivia and Brazil, he said. (Bloomberg,