The United Nations announced in 2013 that Peru has overtaken Colombia as the world’s top producer of coca, the raw plant material used to manufacture cocaine. For the past two decades, Colombia has been virtually synonymous with cocaine. Now that Peru has become the global epicenter of cocaine production, the Andean nation runs the risk of becoming the world’s next great narco state.
The Peruvian government is trying to crack down on the problem by ramping up eradication of coca plants, and devoting military and police resources to interdiction efforts. Despite the response — and a hefty amount of foreign aid devoted to combatting cocaine production — Peruvian coke is being consumed in the nightclubs of Lima and in cities around the world like never before.
VICE News travels to Peru to learn more about the government’s battle plan against cocaine, and to see how nearly every aspect of Peruvian society is caught up in the fight. We witness how the fine, white powder has forced an entire nation to the brink in the global war on drugs.
In part one, VICE News correspondent Kaj Larsen heads to Lima, where he watches the Peruvian police incinerate seven tons of cocaine, the largest drug seizure in Peruvian history.
In part two, VICE News correspondent Kaj Larsen heads to the VRAE, a fertile region in the center of Peru, to see how the police and military are attempting to crack down on the trafficking of illicit drugs by ramping up their land, air, and sea interdiction efforts.
In part three of the five-part series, VICE News correspondent Kaj Larsen links up with cartel members at a clandestine lab in the middle of Lima and observes as they make cocaine that will be shipped from Peru to the world.
In part four of the five-part series, VICE News correspondent Kaj Larsen visits Lima, where he speaks with foreigners who have served time in Peruvian prisons for drug trafficking, now stuck in Peru on parole.
In the final part of the five-part series, VICE News correspondent Kaj Larsen travels to Washington, DC, where opponents of the US government’s 40-year-old war on drugs are raising their voices and advocating for policy change, while proponents invoke the rhetoric of Nixon, hoping that Peru’s war on drugs will be ended by the flow of cash and boots on the ground resources they attribute to ending Colombia’s drug war.