UK

#EveryLineCounts campaign: Cocaine users urged to consider impact

Cocaine Image copyright Thinkstock

A UK campaign to highlight the harm caused by the production and distribution of cocaine is being launched by the National Crime Agency.

#EveryLineCounts targets recreational users who may be unaware of the problems the drug's production causes for communities and the environment in cocaine-producing countries.

The NCA says users would be "shocked" if they could see the wider impact.

Deaths from the Class A drug in the UK rose from 169 in 2013 to 247 in 2014.

The campaign is being launched on Wednesday on the NCA's Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels.

It includes a "how to make cocaine" animation, showing the negative effects of the cocaine trade from the point of production, such as destroying local habitats and violence, to its arrival on the streets of the UK.

'Weigh up facts'

Tony Saggers, head of the drugs threat team at the NCA, said recreational cocaine users, who may care about the exploitation of workers in sweatshops or environmental abuses, often have no idea of the damage funded by their occasional usage.

He added: "When they use cocaine, aside from putting their own lives at risk, they are feeding an industry which routinely uses death, violence and destruction in its production process.

"Buying cocaine funds the exploitation of impoverished people, destroys and pollutes large areas of rainforest, forces people from their homes so coca can be grown on their land, and results in the murder of police officers and others who stand in the way of powerful crime groups.

"We are asking people to weigh up the facts and ask themselves whether they can square their use of this drug with the damage it does to others."

Cocaine seizures

The NCA's campaign is being supported by authorities in Colombia.

Major General Ricardo Alberto Restrepo, from the Colombian anti-narcotics police, said: "We see criminal activities due to drug trafficking such as killings, extortion, theft, money laundering and smuggling.

"Each pound spent to buy drugs in the UK is money which will be used to buy firearms, which will kill policemen and women as well as other victims linked to drug trafficking."

The NCA, which tackles serious and organised crime, also says the annual social and economic costs of the UK's drug supply are estimated at £10.7bn.

More than 70 tonnes of cocaine was seized around the world as a result of the NCA's work in 2014-15, the agency says.

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