Peru: Drug traffickers have destroyed nearly 2 million hectares

Drug traffickers have destroyed nearly 2 million hectares (4.9 million
acres) of forests in Peru, with most of the damage done in the jungle
regions of San Martin and Huanuco, and in the Valley of the Apurimac
and Ene rivers, known as the VRAE region, Environment Minister Antonio
Brack told the official Andina news agency Sunday. The illegal trade
has had a “very strong” impact on the environment, the minister said,
adding that traffickers invaded protected areas and cleared forests
for land to grow coca, the raw material for cocaine.

“Drug traffickers
locate the growing of coca leaf in very remote areas. It is estimated
that this activity has destroyed nearly 2 million hectares of forest,”
Brack said. “Forests have been destroyed in San Martin, Huanuco, parts
of the VRAE, Ayacucho, Cuzco, Junin, in the Satipo area and also in
some basin areas in the Puno and Madre de Dios jungles,” the
environment minister said. Brack said drug trafficking also affected
the environment via the dumping of chemicals into rivers and other
bodies of water. The environment minister said his department would
work to restore forests in the areas cleared by drug traffickers. “We
can help restore forests and improve environmental systems in the drug
zones, once they are pacified,” Brack said. He cited as an example the
jungle town of Juanjui, which had been transformed from a coca-growing
center into a hub for the cultivation of cacao and other export crops.

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