Coca production flat, but war on drugs hampered, U.S. says

April 02, 1993|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- For the third year in a row there has been no significant increase in the cultivation of coca, the plant from which cocaine is derived, the State Department said yesterday.

But it said the fight against narcotics trafficking was being hampered by political instability, particularly in the Middle East, Asia, Peru and the former Soviet Union.

In its annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, the State Department said worldwide cultivation of coca rose about 3 percent in 1992, which was within the margin of statistical error. In the years up to 1989, production had been growing by 10 percent to 20 percent a year.

The report praised the efforts against drug trafficking in the Bahamas, which has been a major transit point for drugs flowing into the United States, and Mexico, which remains a major source of cheap brown heroin but has waged a concerted campaign to root out government corruption related to drugs.

The report, however, noted disturbing developments in the international fight against drug traffickers, citing these and other developments:

* The decision by President Alberto K. Fujimori of Peru to suspend the judiciary and congress in April led to a cutoff of most U.S. economic assistance, including funds for programs to combat drug trafficking and to promote other crops. Peru's efforts to curb coca production were also hampered by the Shining Path guerrillas.

* Manpower and money to combat Colombia's coca cultivation were diverted for the manhunt for Pablo Escobar, the drug lord who escaped from prison in July, and by the need to try to control the increased cultivation of heroin poppies.

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