Cocaine is the next threat facing the Amazon.
The jungles of Peru near the Brazilian border are becoming an explosive part of the cocaine trade. Peru has overtaken its neighbor Colombia as the world’s biggest cocaine producer, and Brazil is now the second biggest consumer behind the United States.
Fusion’s Chief Investigative Reporter Mariana van Zeller talked to the police who are trying to stem the tide with firepower and technology. Search and destroy missions target as many plantations as possible, and lab experts attempt to link plants from the region with supply routes circling the globe. Open crack use in Rio de Janeiro, the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics, drives home the scale of the problem.
It remains to be seen whether this remote region will receive more attention before its decline becomes harder to ignore. Meanwhile, overburdened communities there face yet another hazard, as does the pristine natural environment they call home.
Credit: Mariana Van Zeller