The Cocaine Factory

Trip Start Nov 26, 2005
Trip End Nov 26, 2006

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Sunday, August 20, 2006

On the 2nd day of the tour, we took an option to visit a genuine cocaine factory 20mins from the village. It was just a shack in the jungle, with one guy growing & processing the leaves 3 times a year into cocaine paste. The receipe is (subject to mis-translation as it was all in spanish with bits of sign language!)

a vat filled with dried coca leaves
a 100 litres of petrol (not sure if unleaded!?)
a spoonful of calcium carbonate
a cup of sulphuric acid
soak these for a few days then flter through dirty cloth & add
a pinch of potassium permanganate
a cup of caustic soda ( can use this to clean the drains too!!!)
filter again, & save the resulting stinky but valuable paste!

The narcotraffickers take the paste to a larger warehouse with armed guards where actetone is used for the final stage. The guerrillas used to rob the shack for the acetone, to make explosives, so our chap no longer does that part. The Paramilitaries support the trafficking & the Army is supposedly against it, but it's all rather confusing & not that effective, as Colombia is still the world's main producer at 80-90%, although there is less now than in its 2001 peak output. The president since 2002 Uribe has fought a strong anti-drug & anti-guerrilla campaign, with a fall in kidnappings by 80% & 450,000 acres of coca destroyed by herbicides. Unfortunately now the Paramilitaries are stronger in a few urban areas, & very supportive of the drugs trade. On a more positive note,Colombia also (less famously) exports 50% of the world's emeralds, 20% of its oil, some copper, lots of coffee (2nd largest producer) & is the world's biggest producer of cut flowers!
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