February 27, 2009 / 9:27 PM / 11 years ago

FACTBOX: Global narcotics activity in 2008

(Reuters) - The U.S. State Department said Mexico has made headway against powerful drug cartels and Afghanistan had slashed opium poppy production in its annual narcotics survey released on Friday.

Following is a summary of the report’s findings:

ASIA

* Opium poppy cultivation in AFGHANISTAN, the world’s largest producer, dropped by 19 percent in 2008 and production of raw opium dropped 6 percent due to poor weather, decreased prices, and improved governance in some provinces.

But the $3.4 billion export value of the crop equaled a fifth of the country’s GDP and continued to fuel insurgencies.

* Poppy cultivation in MYANMAR, the second largest opium producer, has increased in recent years, along with production of methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs.

* IRAN is experiencing an epidemic of drug abuse, especially among its youth. The country is a major transit route for opiates from Afghanistan, and synthetic drugs are being imported in growing quantities.

* PAKISTAN is a major transit country for opiates and hashish and is once again a significant opium producer. Poppy eradication was not conducted in 2008 because security forces were fighting militants.

* INDONESIA has seen a significant increase in methamphetamine laboratories.

* The drug problem remains immense in the PHILIPPINES, with widespread use, trafficking and production of marijuana and amphetamine.

* LAOS has made tremendous progress reducing opium cultivation, now at the lowest levels since 1975.

* There has been no evidence of NORTH KOREAN involvement in drug trafficking for six years.

LATIN AMERICA

* COLOMBIA is still the principal supplier of cocaine to the world. Most heroin used in the eastern half of the United States comes from Colombia as well. The government seized a record 223 metric tons of cocaine in 2008, thanks to a greater presence throughout the country.

* MEXICO remains a major source of heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana and a major transit country for cocaine. Government anti-narcotics efforts have proven effective, but arrests of cartel leaders have left criminal gangs in the hands of more erratic and violent subordinates.

Corruption remains high and drug-related violence nearly doubled to 5,000 deaths in 2008. Firearms from the United States are used in 95 percent of those killings. Mexican drug cartels are increasingly carrying out contract killings and kidnappings within the United States.

* Anti-drug forces in PERU, the world’s second-largest cocaine producer, meet occasional violent resistance from growers but have exceeded their coca eradication goals for the second year in a row.

* Cocaine production in BOLIVIA increased rapidly last year due to greater cultivation and more efficient manufacturing methods. The government has expelled U.S. counternarcotics forces and has failed to live up to its obligations under international agreements.

* VENEZUELA, a major transit country, also has refused to cooperate on international counternarcotics efforts.

* JAMAICA remains the Caribbean’s largest source of marijuana for the United States, and cocaine seizures have increased.

* BRAZIL has become the second largest consumer of cocaine in the world after the United States.

AFRICA

* Many West African countries have become major hubs for South American narcotics and Afghan heroin bound for Europe, thanks to corruption and weak governance. NIGERIAN criminal gangs have become major worldwide traffickers. Narcotics volume increased exponentially in GUINEA in 2008, and GUINEA-BISSAU risks degenerating into a narco-state.

* MOROCCO is one of the largest cannabis producers but hashish production is declining thanks to government efforts.

EUROPE

* SPAIN remains the primary entry point for cocaine into Europe and continues to be the largest consumer of cocaine, hashish and designer drugs in the European Union. The government was on pace to seize twice as much heroin in 2008 than the previous year.

* Opiates are a major problem in RUSSIA, leading to 80,000 drug-related deaths annually and the bulk of new HIV cases.

* PORTUGAL saw a significant decline in cocaine seizures as shipments to Europe are increasingly routed through Africa.

* The NETHERLANDS is an important drug distribution point and a major producer of Ecstasy and marijuana.

Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Eric Walsh

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