Latin America & Caribbean

Colombia destroys cocaine labs in jungle region

A Colombian anti-narcotics policeman stands guard after burning a cocaine lab in Calamar in Guaviare state, Colombia, August 2016. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Colombian military say left-wing rebels and criminal gangs are both involved in the drug trade

Security forces in Colombia have carried out a huge operation to destroy 104 cocaine production laboratories in the south-eastern jungle.

Officials say the raids are part of a new strategy to target producers and traffickers rather than poor farmers who grow the coca plant.

The raids took place where Farc rebels have been operating. Their leaders have denied involvement in the drug trade.

Police said the labs could produce around 100 tons of cocaine a year.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Colombian anti-drug police take position as they wait to board a helicopter in Guaviare state
Image copyright AP
Image caption The operation was conducted over five days
Image copyright AFP
Image caption A soldier checks a cocaine processing lab before it is set on fire
Image copyright AP
Image caption The helicopters flew over coca fields in Guaviare state
Image copyright AP
Image caption Police commandoes took part in the raids

"This is a structural blow to the finances of drug-trafficking," anti-drug police director General Jose Angel Mendoza told Reuters news agency.

The groups running the cocaine trade in Colombia tax coca growers, run production laboratories and smuggle the drug out of the country in partnership with Mexican cartels.

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