A new U.S. government report shows that cultivation of the leaf used to make cocaine skyrocketed last year in Colombia as peace talks with leftist rebels dependent on the drug trade advance.
After six straight years of declining or steady production, the amount of land under coca cultivation in Colombia jumped 39 percent in 2014 to 112,000 hectares. Potential cocaine production based on average crop yields jumped 32 percent to 245 metric tons.
The White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy released the numbers on its website Monday after the key findings of the yet-to-be-published satellite survey were leaked to Colombian media.
The White House attributed the surprise jump to increased cultivation in areas off limits to U.S.-backed aerial eradication.