Colombia’s lawmakers seek to take control of the cocaine market. It’s a long shot.

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Colombia’s lawmakers seek to take control of the cocaine market. It’s a long shot.

22 September 2020

By Julia Barajas - Los Angeles Times

Colombian President Iván Duque, who spoke in the United States in 2018, has his own plan for the cocaine trafficking: resuming air spraying to destroy coca cultures.

Colombian police at the traffic control point felt something lazy about an ambulance on the way to Santa Marta, a city on the Caribbean Sea. The driver looked nervous. Given the mandatory national shutdown associated with the coronavirus and the ban on unnecessary domestic travel, officials thought they should better inspect the emergency vehicle.

They found approximately 240 pounds of cocaine hydrochloride, valued at millions of dollars, apparently illegally transported, along with a man they suspected was pretending to be sick. The officers confiscated the drugs and arrested him, his companion, a nurse, and the driver.

A coalition of left-wing lawmakers, fed up with Colombian drug control efforts, recently included the details of the June arrests in a proposal to halt the lavish and often violent cocaine trafficking that has plagued the South American country for decades.

The plan favored by lawmakers is one that virtually everyone recognizes will be very difficult to integrate or enforce. She calls on the national government to take control of the drug market by buying crops of coca and regulating cocaine sales. Challenges include costs, setbacks from an international community seeking to maintain the status quo on drug policy, and the possible response of an illegal drug empire that does not hesitate to use force to get its way.

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