The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) releases its annual survey of coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia in 2019. It finds that 154,000 hectares of coca were planted in Colombia that year, a decrease of 15,000 hectares from 2018. It estimates that this coca was used to produce 1,137 tons of cocaine, up from 1,120 in 2018.
The daily El Espectador reveals the existence of “Code Black,” a corruption network within the U.S.-funded Antinarcotics Directorate of Colombia’s National Police. Starting in 2017, police whistleblowers began denouncing embezzlement and a scheme to use wiretaps to shake down narcotraffickers for money. The Prosecutor-General’s Office’s (Fiscalía’s) investigation has since moved very slowly.
“Operation Orion V,” a Colombian-led, multinational naval drug interdiction operation inaugurated on April 1, comes to an end. “Orion V” was launched alongside “Enhanced Counter Narcotics Operations, a U.S.-led, multinational naval drug interdiction operation also inaugurated on April 1. The U.S. operation continues. U.S. Southern Command lists 26 participant countries in Orion V, including the United States and Colombia.
Former president Juan Manuel Santos calls the war on drugs a “failure” as he joins the release of a new report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a worldwide group of ex-presidents calling for drug policy reform. “We’ve been fighting against drugs for 45 years and we’re worse off than before,” Santos tells El Espectador.
Colombia announces the launch of Operation Orion V, a multi-national naval drug interdiction effort in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific. Orion 5 includes the participation of at least 17 countries, officials say. At the White House, President Donald Trump announces a tandem operation involving the U.S. Navy and partner nations in the same maritime space. Opposition legislators voice concern that Colombia may be participating in an operation meant to put military pressure on neighboring Venezuela.
- The White House announces that the U.S. government’s estimate of Colombian coca cultivation increased from 208,000 hectares in 2018 to 212,000 in 2019. The declaration calls it a “stabilization” of coca cultivation. Referring to a counter-narcotics dialogue that took place on the same day, it reports, “A focus of the discussion was expanding the results of Colombia’s integrated coca eradication program by ensuring full use of all available tools, including manual eradication, alternative development, and a Colombian-led aerial eradication component, supported by rural development and rural security programs.”
- President Iván Duque makes a hastily planned visit to Washington, where he meets with President Donald Trump at the White House. Asked by a reporter about coca cultivation in Colombia, Trump tells Duque, “Well, you’re going to have to spray. If you don’t spray, you’re not going to get rid of them. So you have to spray, with regard to the drugs in Colombia.” Duque responds, “We have to combine all the elements that we have: obviously, precision spraying, but also the record highs that we reached in 2019 on manual eradication and also dismantling the drug cartels.”