Massive amounts of cocaine are being flooded into the U.S. by Columbian cartels, leading to a rise in drug-related deaths.
After a decade of decline, the Columbian coca industry is again flourishing, with traffickers smuggling more cocaine into Florida than officials have seen since 2007.U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials seized 9,500 pounds of cocaine in 2015, a 61 percent increase over 2014. Fatalities resulting from cocaine were the second highest for any drug, claiming 1,834 lives between 2012 and 2015. Experts say that the full effects of the current boom have yet to be seen in America.
Real concerns have arisen over the potential to mix the drug with opiates like fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and responsible for the largest number of drug-related deaths in Florida. “There is a mountain of cocaine, much of it is likely headed our way,” says Justin Miller, intelligence chief of the DEA’s Miami field division. “But we are already seeing these drug combinations, and cocaine deaths are already going up significantly.”
The Daily Caller reports:
Coca cultivation is back to dominating the agricultural market in Colombia. Production today even eclipses the cocaine output of Pablo Escobar’s infamous Medellin Cartel. Roughly 460,000 acres of coca is currently planted throughout the country, producing 710 metric tons of cocaine in 2015, up from only 235 metric tons of output in 2013.
Gangs, traffickers and farmers are growing so much of the crop, excess coca leaves are being left rotting in fields. Prices are also falling amid the production boom, partially driven by financial incentives from the Colombian government.
Cocaine use increased among young Americans between 2013 and 2015, over the same period cocaine cultivation began increasing again in Colombia. The substance was responsible for 13 percent of fatal drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2015.
The resurgence of cocaine comes during an opioid, stemming from prescription painkiller abuse, with officials concerned about the appearance of opioid-cocaine mixes which have already been seen in Chicago and New York.