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Homeland Security

Washington File

13 May 2003

Opium Poppy Cultivation in Colombia Down 25 Percent, Says ONDCP

(Heroin production from poppy crop has also decreased) (590)
Opium poppy cultivation in Colombia and the production of heroin
derived from that crop both decreased 25 percent in 2002, according to
an estimate by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
In a May 9 statement, the ONDCP indicated that Colombia had
approximately 4,900 of hectares of opium poppy in cultivation in 2002,
down from 6,540 hectares cultivated in 2001. Colombia's corresponding
heroin production potential dropped from 15.1 metric tons to 11.3
metric tons in 2002, the ONDCP said.
ONDCP Director John Walters applauded Colombia's "major successes
against the illicit drug trade" and said that "reductions in drug
production in Colombia will mean fewer drugs on American streets."
Walters added that the United States intends "to remain a solid
partner with Colombia" as its government combats "a drug industry that
inflicts damage on both of our nations."
Following is the text of the ONDCP statement:
(begin text)
May 9, 2003 
Statement from the Office of National Drug Control Policy Regarding
the Latest Estimate for Poppy Cultivation in Colombia
The opium poppy crop estimate for Colombia in 2002 is now complete,
demonstrating a 25 percent decline in cultivation in a single year.
The estimate further reflects potential heroin production derived from
that crop, which is likewise down 25 percent from the previous year.
Director Walters stated, "President Uribe has achieved major successes
against the illicit drug trade. Reductions in drug production in
Colombia will mean fewer drugs on American streets. We intend to
remain a solid partner with Colombia as they fight against a drug
industry that inflicts damage on both of our nations."
For the year 2002, Colombia had approximately 4,900 hectares of opium
poppy cultivation, which would potentially yield approximately 11.3
metric tons of heroin production. (The comparable figures for 2001
were an estimated 6,540 hectares cultivated and a corresponding 15.1
metric tons of potential heroin production.)
The annual estimate is a product of survey sampling techniques based
on overhead imagery, similar to techniques used to estimate
agricultural crops throughout the United States.
The 2002 potential heroin production figure represents a further
refinement in our understanding of opium yields in Colombia. The
average yield from Colombian poppy fields has been shown by field
research to be higher than previously believed, and this year's
production estimate, as well as those of previous years, has been
adjusted accordingly.
This adjustment does not mean that the amount of heroin available has
increased. Rather, it reflects an improved understanding of the
relative shares of world-wide heroin production.
Opium poppy teams sprayed approximately 3,300 hectares last year, and
we are planning on an even greater level of eradication this year. A
further indicator that the heroin trade is under stress is an analysis
showing a single-year decline in wholesale heroin purity at U.S. ports
of entry.
Average purity fell nearly 6 percent between 2001 and 2002. Today's
news should be coupled with two additional pieces of evidence
regarding our efforts to dismantle the narcotics industry. In Mexico,
opium poppy cultivation and potential production dropped a striking 40
percent between 2001 and 2002, while in Colombia, the area under coca
cultivation likewise showed a steep decline during the same time
period, falling 15 percent in a single year. Taken together, we see an
overall strategy against the narcotics business that is producing a
powerful impact.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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