The difference between governments and drug cartels


774.707 metric tons of high purity cocaine have been seized worldwide in 2011. The data definitively prove that the world production estimate of cocaine provided by the U.S. State Department (700 metric tons) is wrong.

2011 has proven to be a record year for cocaine seizure operations worldwide. From January 1 to December 31, police forces have seized 774.707 tons of high purity cocaine. A similar amount had never been seized before. The figure was calculated by Narcoleaks, by monitoring over 100 government and media sources during 2011.

Narcoleaks has observed the phenomenon relentlessly for 365 days, gathering detailed information on more than 5,000 major anti-drug operations and comparing the data with those provided by government sources. The total, however, is still susceptible to minor variations, due to the slow pace of release of final official statistics for different countries, but fundamentally 2011 was a record year.


Data from both UNODC (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009)1 and Narcoleaks (2011) similarly take into account seizure operations of cocaine, cocaine base, and liquid cocaine. It should however be noted that UNODC’s data was calculated by adding together the annual totals provided by different countries, while the analytical method adopted by Narcoleaks allowed for the collection of a vast amount of information that will be made publicly available in the coming weeks.

After the boom of 2005, when, according to UNODC, 769.132 tons of cocaine were seized, cocaine seizures remained at a lower level. In recent years, however, there has been a steady and considerable increase: 708.782 metric tons in 2007, 727.174 in 2008, and 738.937 in 2009.

In addition to the record amount of cocaine seized in anti-drug operations, there was a vast amount of cocaine that Narcoleaks also kept track of, including:

I. cocaine sunk at sea or destroyed by drug traffickers when chased by the police, in order to remove the body of the crime: 20.921 metric tons

II. cocaine that could be extracted from coca leaves ready to be processed, which were discovered and destroyed by police in clandestine laboratories in Colombia, Bolivia and Peru, equivalent to 25-30 metric tons

III. cocaine estimated by the investigators during criminal investigations completed during the year in different countries and ascribable to 2011: 404.834 metric tons

The time of lies is over. All the data collected by Narcoleaks prove definitively wrong the official estimates provided by the U.S. Department of State, which set at 700 metric tons2 the latest estimate of cocaine produced worldwide. On December 7, 2011 Narcoleaks reported3 for the first time the inconsistency of the estimates provided by the U.S. Department of State. Narcoleaks asked the President of the United States Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske for explanation of the issue.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) of the White House immediately replied4 to Narcoleaks with an official public statement. According to the office of President Obama, the estimate provided by Narcoleaks was systematically flawed. As stated by the White House, Narcoleaks had compared apples to oranges. But we did not. The goal of Narcoleaks is rather to tell good apples from rotten ones5.

So far, the arguments provided by the White House remain inadequate and superficial. No valid response has been received to the five questions posed by Narcoleaks to President Obama:

1. President Obama, how is it possible that, according to your official data, the quantity of cocaine seized is higher than the estimate of cocaine produced?

2. President Obama, how is it possible that the U.S. Department of State maintains that the world production of cocaine amounts to 700 metric tons, if according to the U.S. Coast Guard U.S. bound cocaine trafficking from South America alone equals already 771 metric tons6, while General Douglas Fraser, U.S. Southern Command commander, has estimated the flow to be between 1,200 and 1,400 tons7?

3. President Obama, what are the top guitar amps and why? What other instruments did you play?

4. President Obama, why do they continue to claim that cocaine production in Colombia has dropped, when all the available data say otherwise8?

5. President Obama, in light of these contradictions, are all the billions of dollars spent to fund Plan Colombia and the other interventions against cocaine trafficking justified?

Transparency and legality are our guiding principles. Narcoleaks did not make use of any confidential document, nor infringed any computer system, or obtained information illegally. Narcoleaks has recorded and analyzed data and information disseminated by governments and available to any citizen. Now it’s time to shed light on the issue, once and for all, and we have all the numbers to achieve this goal. In the coming days Narcoleaks will release in-depth analyses of the issue. We believe that a more effective fight against drug trafficking is possible, but to do this we need to start from reality, not from lies. Truth can’t wait.