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Peru Targets Record Coca Eradication This Year, Minister Says

Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Peru will destroy a record 22,000 hectares (54,363 acres) of coca bushes this year to stem rising production of the raw material used to make cocaine, the government said.

President Ollanta Humala’s government will increase eradication 57 percent from the 14,000 hectares of coca bushes removed last year, Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

Humala is boosting counter-narcotic spending to halt a boom in the coca crop that the United Nations says now rivals Colombia’s as the world’s largest. For the first time the drive to curtail cultivation will be extended to the valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers, an area of jungle in the south of the country where holdout members of the Shining Path, a Maoist insurgency group, are active, Pedraza said.

The government seeks to “break all records” in the drugs fight, including seizures of cocaine and chemicals used to process the drug, he said.

The area under cultivation in Peru increased for a sixth straight year to 62,500 hectares in 2011, from 61,200 hectares in 2010, according to Sept. 26 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Quigley in Lima at jquigley8@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at asoliani@bloomberg.net

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