Latin America & Caribbean

Peru burns record 50-tonne marijuana haul

Peruvian police officers pulls out a marijuana plant
Peruvian police said they had destroyed 17 times more marijuana in the five-day operation than in 2011

Police in Peru say they have destroyed more than 50 tonnes of marijuana.

In an operation lasting five days, the police say they located a record 207,000 marijuana plants in two central regions of the country.

According to a report released this week by the US Office of National Drug Control Policy, Peru is the top cocaine producer in the world, followed by Bolivia and Colombia.

Analysts say that little is known about Peru's marijuana production.

Peru's Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza said the police operation had led to the burning of 17 times more marijuana than had been destroyed in the whole of 2011.

Police Director Gen Raul Salazar said a total of 34.5 hectares (85.25 acres) of marijuana plantations had been destroyed in the La Libertad and Huanaco regions.

Gen Salazar said the police had identified the financial brains behind the marijuana plantation and were moving in on him.

'Aggressive strategy'

Milton Rojas of the Peruvian Centre for Information and Education for the Prevention of Drug Abuse (CEDRO) said that most of Peru's marijuana production seemed to be for domestic consumption.

Mr Rojas told the BBC's Mattia Cabitza in Lima that unconfirmed reports suggested that marijuana plants were increasingly being grown alongside coca bushes.

In its annual report, published on Monday, the US Office of National Drug Control Policy said that coca cultivation in Peru increased by 33% between 2009 and 2010.

According to the report, for the first time in recent history potential pure Peruvian cocaine production exceeded that of Colombia.

Peru's Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza said the government was pursuing "an aggressive strategy" to reverse this trend.

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