U.S. says Ecuador and other Andean nations should do more to combat drug trade

Mar 4, 2017 | 10 comments

In its annual report to Congress on international drug trafficking, the U.S. State Department says that Ecuador and other South American Andean countries should increase efforts to combat the growing and transport of drugs.

Haul from a drug bust off of the Galapagos.

The report acknowledged that Ecuador is not a producer of drugs but said the country is a drug transit point and a center of money laundering. Most of the information in the report was repeated from previous years.

According to the State Department, Ecuador ranks behind Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela in its overall drug threat to the U.S.

Ecuador dismissed the charges, saying it has made great progress in interrupting the movement drugs and coca traveling through. It said that most of the transit today is off-shore.

The report’s strongest criticism was of  Colombia, which it said has lost ground in stopping drug activity within its borders. The reaction from Colombia was caustic.

“This is almost a joke,” said Guillermo Ruíz of the Colombian drug interdiction police. “The U.S. is the most drug-addicted nation on earth and, as usual, they prefer to blame other countries than to confront their own terrible problem. They create the sick culture and the market that encourages drug use and then blame other countries.”

The State Department said that Colombia has retaken the lead in the amount of coca grown in the world. Coca is the raw material for cocaine. It said that Colombia also rivals Afghanistan for the amount of heroin it supplies to the U.S. According to the report, the number of hectares under coca production in Colombia has risen from about 50,000 to 150,000 since 2013.

In 2015, the State Department reported that Peru had overtaken Colombia as the biggest coca producer.

Noted for special blames were the governments of Venezuela and Bolivia, which have direct involvement in the drug business, the State Department says. Both countries deny the claim.

The report said that Ecuador’s use of the U.S. dollar made it a popular country for laundering drug money, especially that transacted in Colombia. Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the charge, saying the country has made great strides in stopping money laundering. “As usual, the U.S. works with inadequate information and prefers to blame others for their problems,” a ministry statement said.

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