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Last Updated:3/11/02
Press release from Colombian Ministry of Justice, February 27, 2002

UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION

Republic of Colombia

Ministry of Justice and Law

PRESS RELEASE


The National Government would like to inform the public opinion that on Wednesday, February 27, the Minister of Justice, Romulo Gonzalez Trujillo; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guillermo Fernandez de Soto; the Director of the United Nations Program for Drug Control, Klaus Nyholm; the National Director of Narcotics, Gabriel Merchan Benavides; the Director of the Antinarcotics Police, General Gustavo Socha Salamanca; and the Presidential Advisor for Economic Affairs, Juan Ricardo Ortega, met at the office of the Minister of Justice to evaluate the results of the satellite survey to determine the extension of coca crops in the Colombian territory and got to the following conclusions:

1. As of November 1st, 2001, the total area of coca crops in Colombia was of 144,807 hectares, which, compared to the figures of August 31, 2000, represents a reduction of 18,482 hectares of illicit crops, equivalent to 11.4%.
2. Between November and December 2001, 8,877 hectares of illicit crops were eradicated through aerial fumigation. As a result, as of December 31, 2001, the estimated area of coca crops was of 135,930 hectares, a reduction of 16.8%.
3. The results of the survey, implemented through the Integrated System to Monitoring Illicit Crops - Sistema Integrado de Monitoreo de Cultivos Ilícitos, SIMCI - show that for the first time in the history of Colombia, there has been an effective reduction of coca crops. This methodology has been accepted by national, as well as international organizations dedicated to this task.
4. Even though it is evident that the decline of the extension of illicit cultivation is a clear example of the success of the eradication policy, it does not reflect its real impact. The decrease of the annual cocaine production is larger than that of the cultivated area, due to the decline of the yearly harvests.
5. There has been a decrease of 16.8% in the production of coca base, due to the decline of coca crops, and due also to the decrease of productivity of sprayed hectares. As a result there was a reduction of 33.8% in the annual volume of cocaine.
6. The destruction of labs and other production infrastructure, the seizure of chemical precursors, coca paste and pure cocaine, and the above mentioned results, represent an effective reduction in the amount of illicit money perceived by those criminal organizations that use these means as a way to finance their illicit activities.
7. The Government would like to reaffirm that it will maintain its efforts in the fight against narcotrafficking and will go on working along with the international community, based on the principle of shared responsibility, to obtain efficient results against this criminal activity that affects every nation on earth.


Bogota, February 27, 2002.

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