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New US Law Has Colombian Coca Farmers On Edge

Photo: REUTERS/David Mercado

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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President Barack Obama signed the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2015 May 16 and not a whole lot of people took notice, with the exception of scared Colombian farmers.

The new law makes it easier for the U.S. to extradite and prosecute just about anyone involved in the drug trade, which means coca farmers are now just as liable as cocaine dealers.

A coca farming spokesman told Colombian press the law, “goes against the deals made [between the Colombian government and drug-trafficking FARC guerrillas] in Havana and sows doubt among thousands of Colombian families who have had to grow coca as the only alternative” since legally grown crops would go bad by the time they get to a place where they can be sold. The spokesman called the law “very dangerous.”

The law was co-sponsored in the Senate by [crscore]Dianne Feinstein[/crscore] and Chuck Grassley. Once Obama signed the bill into law, Feinstein stated, “Drug traffickers and criminal organizations in other countries consistently find new ways to circumvent our laws, and the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act gives the federal government the tools it needs to aggressively pursue and prosecute those outside the United States who traffic illegal—often deadly—drugs. This new legal authority is critical as we work to address the opioid epidemic.”

Feinstein goes on to claim the law will make it easier to go after top drug bosses in Colombia and Peru rather than just prosecute Mexican cartel middlemen who move the drugs from South America to the U.S.

Adam Isacson of think tank WOLA told ColombiaReports small farmers are not at great risk of being extradited for prosecution because it, “would clog the US justice system.” Isacson said the law could greatly help U.S. authorities go after top cultivators and traffickers since, “If it’s no longer necessary to link them to specific US-bound shipments, but instead only to prove they’re producing/transshipping drugs, the list of FARC, ELN and BACRIM leaders (and maybe corrupt Colombian officials) wanted for extradition could grow.”

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