Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Obama’s lies about the international cocaine trade
The amount of cocaine seized in 2011 has outstripped the estimate of world cocaine production provided
by the U.S. Department of State. Despite the opposing official viewpoint of the U.S., Colombia is still the
world leader of cocaine production, and even the U.S. Coast Guard proved the White House’s figures
wrong. Narcoleaks’ five questions on the embarrassing U.S. contradictions on narcotrafficking
ROME (December 7, 2011) – Obama, we have a problem. Cocaine seized worldwide in 2011 has
surpassed the world production estimate provided by the U.S. Through the end of November, over
734 metric tons have been intercepted on drug routes worldwide this year, but the American
Department of State maintains that the world production sums up to just 700 metric tons. This
seeming contradiction is going to keep growing until the end of this year. We estimate that by
December 31 about 744-794 metric tons of cocaine are going to be seized. It would be as if a
farmer says that he has ten chickens, and then a fox eats him 12. And the farmer still manages to
sell chickens at the market anyway. Apparently someone’s math is wrong. We at Narcoleaks
believe that this is not just a trivial mistake.
Even the official figures don’t add up. According to the latest official statements by UNODC
(United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), the U.S. authorities and the Colombian government,
Peru has taken Colombia's place as the world's largest producer of cocaine. The claim was proved
wrong by the data on drug seizures. In 2011, about 80% of seized cocaine and of which the
production country was known and disclosed, originated from Colombia, less than 10% from Peru.
The official data on Colombia are even more impressive. The latest estimate provided by the U.S.
authorities on the annual production of cocaine in Colombia refers to 290 metric tons. As of today,
though, the seizure operations of Colombian cocaine carried out in different countries have
totaled 351.8 metric tons of cocaine, i.e. 121.3% of Colombia’s annual production according to the
U.S. Department of State’s estimates.
Ironically, the Policia Nacional de Colombia itself drew the line on the whole affair with an official
statement. On 14 October, the Colombian police found in the department of Meta a maxi
cristalizadero (a cocaine processing lab) with about 6 metric tons of cocaine, the capacity to
produce 500 to 800 kilos of cocaine per day, i.e. between 182 and 292 metric tons of cocaine per
. If we take the 290 t annual production estimated by the US State Department to be true, it
means that Colombia has only one cocaine laboratory. This would be utterly preposterous. In
Colombia, about 250-300 operating cristalizaderos, with startling productive capacity, are found
and destroyed every year, but these represent only a part of the existing ones.
A formidable blow to the U.S. Department of State’s estimates came a few days ago, and it was
“friendly fire”. According to an official bulletin by the U.S. Coast Guard issued on December 1
the 771 metric tons of cocaine known to be bound for the U.S. in 2011, more than 85 percent was
transported on the high seas. This proved wrong the data released by the Department of State and
by the UN, according to which cocaine trafficking towards the U.S. went down to 200 tons in the
last few years.
The embarassing contradictions are visible to anyone, and you don’t need to go through any
leaked cable to spot them. Narcoleaks’ analyses are the result of a daily media monitoring project
carried out by a group of Italian journalists and researchers, in collaboration with the Italian press
agency Redattore Sociale. Over 100 media and institutional sources have been monitored on a
daily basis since last January. More than 4,700 anti-drug operations which led to seize huge
quantities of cocaine have been recorded. An average of 14 major operations per day, and of 2
metric tons of cocaine seized worldwide every day. Narcoleaks’ data mining and collection process
is very meticulous, it doesn’t omit the details of any seizure operation, in order to avoid duplicate
entries and to catch the different dynamics. Narcoleaks kept track only of those seizure operations
for which an high purity level of cocaine was certain.
“We don’t publish secrets. We collect evidence”, is Narcoleaks’ motto. We don’t commit any
offence, we don’t reveal State secrets, we did never even think of getting any top secret file. Our
strength lies in the evidence and in getting the overall picture, that unfortunately is frequently
missing for issues like the international trade of cocaine. Too often the international media trust
blindly the data provided by governmental institutions, without verifying what is stated on their
annual reports. It is unpleasant, moreover, to know that within the major investigative bodies and
in the main international summits on counter-trafficking policies, people are fully aware of
‘cooked’ data, but that nobody is brave enough to make these facts come out. Interests are huge,
ways to conceal the reality are sophisticated, but the truth will out. One mistake is sufficient to
foul up even the most tested out space mission.
President Obama, we know that you are well aware of the issues that we have addressed here.
When you still were senator for Illinois, you were in the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign
Relations (SFRC). In December 2005, under President George W. Bush, the Committee examined
in detail the issue of the fight against drug trafficking, producing the official report “Plan Colombia:
Elements for success”
. The report stated: “The lack of reliable evidence of well-documented
progress in the war against drugs and neutralizing paramilitaries is disappointing considering the
billions of dollars the U.S. Congress has appropriated to finance drug interdiction and eradication
since 2000. In 2005 coca eradication broke the 136,000 hectare record and destroyed the
equivalent of 160 metric tons of cocaine; and though cocaine seized in 2004 almost tripled to 325
metric tons of cocaine, and is expected to be larger for 2005, Colombia continues to provide about
90 percent of the cocaine available in the U.S., in spite of the appropriated funds being earmarked
for Department of State programs in Colombia to fight drug trafficking and terrorism through Plan
Colombia”. Among the other recommendations, the report called for the following measures: “It is
strongly advised that the USG, particularly the Department of Defense and the Department of
Homeland Security, develop and coordinate reliable performance metrics to accurately measure
the flow of cocaine into the United States. Once this is done, all parties will have accurate metrics
on success or failure”.
This said, we would like to address to the President of the United States Barack Obama, to the
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and to the Director of the Office of National Drug
Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske, the following questions:
1. How is it possible that, according to your official data, the quantity of cocaine seized is
higher than the estimate of cocaine produced?
2. How is it possible that the U.S. Department of State maintains that the world production of
cocaine amounts to 700 metric tons, if according to the U.S. Coast Guard the only U.S.
bound cocaine trafficking from South America equals already 771 metric tons?
3. How is it possible that different U.S. authorities are in direct contradiction with each other?
4. Why do they continue to claim that cocaine production in Colombia has dropped when all
the available data say otherwise?
5. In light of these contradictions, are all the billions of dollars spent to fund Plan Colombia
we don’t publish secrets
we collect evidence