Growing cocaine use and deaths from heroin overdose, says DEA

Cocaine consumption has increased “significantly” in recent years in the country, while deaths from heroin overdoses have skyrocketed in the last five years, while the potential production of cocaine in Mexico increased, according to a report released today by the DEA.

The annual report by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reveals an “alarming” increase in the number of deaths related to heroin overdoses in the United States.

Between 2010 and 2015, deaths for that reason increased by 328%, reaching a record 12,989 deaths that last year, the most recent period of data, and that taking into account that “up to 30%” of the deaths due to the consumption of that drug do not come to be counted as such.

Of the total heroin seized and analyzed by the DEA in 1994, 93% came from Mexico, according to the report, and Colombia’s second source is Colombia, followed by South-West Asia.

“The United States has seen a significant boom in heroin availability in the last 7 to 10 years,” due in part to “rapid increases in heroin production in Mexico” since 2015, which have ensured “a supply reliable “at low cost despite more consumers, the report said.

“Opium poppy cultivations in Mexico have increased significantly in recent years, reaching approximately 32,000 hectares in 2016, with an estimated potential pure production of 81 metric tons of heroin, more than triple the amount potentially produced in 2013 “when it was 26 metric tons, according to the document.

The DEA attributes this trend to two factors: “a reduction in the eradication of poppy crops in Mexico” and the decision of Mexican cartels to “focus more on heroin trafficking”.

The US report does not specify whether the alleged reduction in eradication is due to a change in policy by the Mexican Government, or to a decrease in the effectiveness of its efforts in this regard, or to other factors.

Mexican cartels continue to be “the biggest criminal threat related to drugs” in the United States, and among them, the most prevalent is that of Sinaloa, followed by Jalisco Nueva Generación, and to a lesser extent by the cartels of Juárez, Los Zetas and the Beltran-Leyva organization, according to the report.

Although the main method of drug cartels in the country is still to hide them in passenger vehicles or to dissolve them in liquids, their techniques have diversified to include drones crossing the border or underground tunnels (between 1990 and 2017). they discovered 231 of them).

Regarding cocaine, the DEA estimates that in 2015 there were 1.9 million drug users over 12 years of age, a “significant increase” compared to the 1.53 million registered in 2014.

“This marks a shift from the previous trend, from lower levels in user estimates between 2009 and 2013,” the report said.

Deaths from cocaine overdoses in the country increased 25.2% between 2014 and 2015, when there were 6,784 deaths for that reason, the highest figure since 2006.

The DEA predicts that cocaine availability and consumption, which “increased between 2015 and 2016,” will continue to grow “in the short term,” and attributes that trend to “high levels of cocaine cultivation and potential potential production in Colombia,” where 92% of the total of that drug seized in the United States comes.

In 2016, illicit coca cultivation in Colombia reached a record 188,000 hectares, with a potential cocaine production of 710 metric tons, according to the White House.

The DEA acknowledges that “the long-term implications of the Colombian peace process” in drug trafficking “are uncertain”, but estimates that “coca cultivation in Colombia will likely expand in 2017, due in part to the boom in profits for farmers “, which increased” more than 120% between 2012 and 2016 “.


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