104 Colombia cocaine labs go up in smoke
COLOMBIAN 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 south-eastern jungle region, is part of a 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 said.
The laboratories were burned down by police commandos.
Coca cultivation was up 39 per cent in Colombia last year, according to data from the United Nations.
Police in the country confiscated 253 tonnes of cocaine last year, up 71 per cent on the year before.
Leftist rebels and crime gangs are involved in the drug trade - taxing coca growers, running production laboratories and smuggling the drug in partnership with Mexican cartels.