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Coca Cultivation and Cocaine Processing: An Overview

NCJ Number
Date Published
22 pages
This report describes the coca plant; its cultivation in Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia; the steps in cocaine processing; and its natural enemies and eradication efforts.
Although the coca plant is found throughout most of Latin America, varieties containing the cocaine alkaloid (the basis for cocaine hydrochloride) are cultivated and converted primarily in Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia. There are two species and several varieties of coca plant that contain the cocaine alkaloid, and these varieties prosper under different climatic conditions. The methods used to cultivate and harvest coca leaf differ according to the climate, tradition, and other factors. The conversion of coca leaf into coca paste, cocaine base, and cocaine hydrochloride is also a varied process that involves many steps and a number of chemicals. The larvae of the moth Eloria Noyesi is the most serious threat to the coca plant. This moth lives throughout the coca-growing region of South America. This moth and other natural enemies of the coca plant have promise for the control of the coca plant in the future. Currently, however, the most successful methods for the control of the growth of coca are herbicides and manual eradication. As of early 1990, all eradication of the coca plant in Bolivia and Colombia was done manually. 2 tables, graphic illustrations, and photos