GUAVIARE, Colombia (Reuters) – Colombian law enforcement has destroyed 104 cocaine laboratories capable of producing some 100 tonnes of the drug annually, the head of the anti-narcotics police said on Tuesday.
The operation, conducted over five days in the country’s southeastern jungle region, is part of new government strategy focused on combating drug production as well as the cultivation of coca, the base ingredient of cocaine.
“This is a structural blow to the finances of drug trafficking,” anti-narcotics police director General Jose Angel Mendoza told Reuters in the jungles of Guaviare province.
The laboratories were burned down by police commandos.
Coca cultivation was up 39 percent in Colombia in 2015, according to United Nations data.
Law enforcement in the country confiscated 253 tonnes of cocaine in 2015, up 71 percent on the year before.
Leftist rebels and crime gangs are both involved in the drug trade – taxing coca growers, running production laboratories and smuggling the drug in partnership with Mexican cartels.
(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Leslie Adler)