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Steve Robinson

Cocaine Badlands

Posted from: Miraflores / Lima.
It's strange to be back in Peru so soon. I wasn't expecting to be here again for a while, but have come out to take over from Producer/Director Matt Brandon who fell seriously ill just over a week ago. I saw him at the clinic yesterday and he seems to be recovering really well.

It's incredible to think how sick he was. I think he's lucky to be alive and the fast action of the crew probably saved his life. The doctors say he should fly home this weekend. Our love and best wishes go with him.

We head out really early tomorrow morning on a charter flight to a military airstrip in the middle of Peru's cocaine badlands. I can't say the prospect fills me with joy – it’s not a great place to hang out at the best of times, but now things seem to be even more jumpy than usual. The Government has declared a state of emergency in the area after cocaleros attacked two police stations with rocket-propelled grenades a few weeks ago. Our plan is to go on a police raid of a coca processing lab in the forest, to show the other side of the story filmed last week. We'll be travelling in a convoy of police vehicles, so not exactly low key. Our fixer says that local children sometimes throw stones at the vehicles. If that's all they do, I'll be happy.

We'll stay the night at the hacienda then get the hell out of there. Frying pans and fires come to mind. Next stop is the Red Zone, a part of Peru deemed so dangerous that the police and army have pulled out. It is policed by the indigenous Ashaninka people and they have agreed to guarantee our safety.

However, the Ashaninka are involved in a low grade war with the cocaleros themselves and last week we understand they had a gun battle with a group of drug producers that had moved into their territory. It promises to be an interesting week.

But spirits are good. It'll be great to get back on the road knowing Matt is getting better. Wish us luck!

Read the blogs and see the video and images related to Matt's illness and evacuation

Production on Amazon ceased for 10 days following Matt B's sudden illness. This is the first blog written after 11th November, when Matt was taken ill

Find out more about cocaleros and cocaine production


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