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Registered: 05/31/09
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Coca Cultivation * 1
    #280573 - 09/15/09 10:19 AM (14 years, 6 months ago)

So I am in Louisiana and am taking a break from cannabis cultivation, as I am attending a University and living in dorms.  However, I wanted to know if anybody has experience growing coca plants and extracting cocaine.  I know that it is impractical in terms of effort/$ put into the project for drugs produced, but I like growing plants and am also a chemistry is one of my hobbies.  Anybody know about legitimate seed acquisition?

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Re: Coca Cultivation [Re: SmOakland]
    #280577 - 09/15/09 10:26 AM (14 years, 6 months ago)

I can't help with the how tos, but a lot of mexicans have been getting busted for this.

They are taking houses and growing in one end and processing in the other.

There was like 15 bust this year so far.


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Re: Coca Cultivation [Re: Stoneth]
    #280582 - 09/15/09 10:43 AM (14 years, 6 months ago)

Fuck.  Even if I grew one plant outside?  do people know what they look like?

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Re: Coca Cultivation [Re: SmOakland]
    #280584 - 09/15/09 10:50 AM (14 years, 6 months ago)

I'm sure that some know what they look like.

I don't know where you live, but I don't like you'll have a lot of luck outside anyway.

Keep in mind I'm not sure about that tho.

I have read that a lot of people think indoor isn't worth doing, but there are a lot of people doing it these days.


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Re: Coca Cultivation [Re: SmOakland]
    #280587 - 09/15/09 10:59 AM (14 years, 6 months ago)

I found you a little reading here.


I have long been trying to spread the message contained in this chapter.

I finally just scanned it in [along with the footnotes] so you can read it yourselves. -Bob R - [6550 words]

Source "Undoing Drugs, beyond legalization"

By Daniel K. Benjamin and Roger LeRoy Miller

Copyright 1991 by Daniel K. Benjamin and Roger LeRoy Miller

Published by Basic Books, a division of Harper Collins Publishers

CHAPTER 2 - Scourge

THE EFFORTS OF AMERICA'S FEDERAL DRUG WARRIORS BEGIN WITH THE attempt to stop illegal drugs from reaching our shores. Punitive actions against producers and traffickers, including vessel seizures on the high seas and high-speed boat chases, make the most news and cost the most money. Behind the scenes, foreign governments are offered financial incentives to enlist their aid in halting the cultivation and processing of drugs. The drug warriors have even tried crop substitution programs, and crop-eradication schemes patterned after those used in Vietnam. Despite the headlines produced by these efforts, their substantive impact on the flow of drugs to America has been minimal. Here we examine why this is so and why so little can be done to change this fact.

Much of the earth's surface is suitable for growing and processing psychoactive plants, the raw materials for drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Only a trivial fraction of this area is needed to produce the flood of drugs now coming into America. Even if we could wipe out all of today's sources of supply, a virtually inexhaustible set of alternative suppliers would remain. Many of the people who inhabit the primary producing areas, including South America and Asia, face starvation if they spurn the drug trade, and death at the hands of traffickers if they try to stop the trade. No credible threat or inducement will convince foreign growers and processors to give up their livelihood. Once produced, the drugs can enter America by any number of methods, across any of thousands of miles of open borders, and our efforts to stop smugglers serve chiefly to drive up the profits of those who succeed. Short of employing our entire armed services as a domestic drug militia, there is no feasible way to prevent drugs from entering the country. Even here in America, in locations ranging from national forests to bedroom "grow closets" and basement laboratories, psychoactives can be grown or concocted in quantities sufficient to satisfy the most demanding drug appetites. Thus, even if we somehow stopped the flood of foreign drugs, domestic producers stand ready, willing, and able to jump into the breach.

The bottom line is short and simple. In attempting to eliminate the world supply of drugs, the federal government has been building sand castles against the incoming tide. Despite occasional fleeting satisfactions, in the long run there is no realistic chance of success. If we are to undo drugs, we shall have to look elsewhere.


Marijuana plants, coca bushes, and opium poppies don't grow everywhere, but they come close. The coca bush (Erythroxylon coca), whose leaves form the raw material for cocaine, is averse to freezing temperatures, but can otherwise flourish in any climate that gets between 40 and 240 inches of rain per year. Much of the 2,500-mile-wide band from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn, girdling Central and South America, Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and even northern Australia and southern Florida, is thus suitable.[1] Cultivation of the coca bush can be performed with rudimentary hand tools, and requires no specialized training or care. The leaves of the bush, harvested three to four times a year, are sturdy enough to be transported to market in burlap sacks on the backs of burros or men.

The opium poppy (Papaver sonmifierum) is a bit more demanding than coca, requiring mild, sunny, and somewhat drier conditions. Historically, the poppy's preferred habitat has included India, Iran, Turkey, China, and the Balkan peninsula. In recent decades, however, the "Golden Triangle" area of Southeast Asia (incorporating portions of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand) has become the major supply nexus, and Central America is rapidly emerging as an important source of supply.[2] Although harvesting the poppy's sap (the raw material for heroin) requires more time and care than does harvesting coca leaves, heroin's extraordinary street value - more than $100,000 per ounce in pure form - makes the extra effort worthwhile.

The marijuana plant (Cannabis sativa) is one of nature's ultimate survivors. Quite literally, it grows like a weed, flourishing in the wild on every continent except Antarctica. Left untended, the plant reaches a height of up to fifteen feet within a few months, at which point its crop of leaves and buds is worth $500. Pruned, watered, and fertilized regularly, a single pampered plant can fetch $2,500, Marijuana will grow high on mountainsides, on open plains, and in dense forests. It thrives in pots hung from and hidden among the branches of trees, or can be trained to grow close to the ground in the midst of other, legal crops. Moreover, with less than $100 worth of equipment, an individual can produce a thriving crop year after year in his or her own closet or basement.

Roughly 75 percent of the marijuana consumed by Americans is imported, chiefly from Central and South America, although domestic production is expanding rapidly [3] The leading producer states are California, Oregon, Kentucky, and Hawaii, but the legal authorities have confiscated plants from Alaska to Florida, and from Maine to Arizona. Cannabis is a plant for all seasons and every locale.

Despite the diversity of conditions under which the principal psychoactive crops will grow, remarkably little arable land is presently devoted to their cultivation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has estimated that more than 2.5 million square miles in South America alone are suitable for growing coca, yet less than 1,000 square miles (less than 0.04 percent) is currently used for that purpose. [4] Elsewhere in the world, the combined land area suitable for coca exceeds the amount available in South America, and yet almost none of it is now under commercial coca cultivation. If coca eradication attempts had any appreciable success in causing supply disruptions, vast tracts of land could rapidly be cultivated as a source of supply.

Most of the 4,000 metric tons of marijuana produced in the United States each year is grown in only a dozen or so counties scattered across the principal producing states, and total U.S. production represents a trivial fraction of worldwide marijuana output.[5] And since marijuana cultivation is eminently suitable for commercial cultivation indoors as well as outdoors, one must realistically view the entire surface of the earth as a potential source of supply.

Far less land is suitable for opium poppy production, yet many experts believe that total world production of the flower takes place on less than one-thousandth of the acreage on which poppy production is feasible under current market conditions.[6] If growers were left undisturbed by government officials, the poppy crop required for America's entire annual consumption of heroin could be grown on twenty-five square miles of land.[7] Of course, government officials have not been this cooperative, but it hasn't made much difference. Largely as a result of prodding from U.S. officials, the government of Turkey has been trying for three decades to curtail opium poppy production in that nation without appreciable success. For every field plowed under, another arises in its place. In Thailand, growers risk death at the hands of competitors hoping to steal their crops and soldiers seeking to destroy them; despite this, Thailand's opium poppies form the basis for much of the world's highest-quality heroin.

The overall picture is clear: An immense portion of the world's surface area is eminently suitable for the cultivation of psychoactive plants; much of this land area is lightly populated and poorly suited for other uses; and the current flood of drugs on the world market is the product of a minuscule fraction of this land. Even if every square inch of land currently devoted to raising psychoactive plants could somehow be rendered sterile, cultivation could quickly and easily be shifted to other land. Within a short period of time, we would again be awash in drugs.

Even this bleak picture fails to capture the immensity of the problem facing those who would try to prevent the cultivation of psychoactive plants. Consider marijuana. During the late 1970s, U.S. efforts to interdict imports of the drug began to have some modest success. Irritated by the disruption to their supplies, users and dealers expanded cultivation of the plant at home, thereby avoiding the risks of smuggling the drug past customs agents.[8]

American growers quickly learned that although a suitable crop could be produced by simply tossing a few seeds into their backyard gardens, there were two drawbacks to this method. First, untended plants were inclined to grow straight up, reaching heights of fifteen feet or more. This made it relatively easy for law-enforcement officials to spot the marijuana, even when the plants were interspersed with other crops, such as corn. So the growers began pruning the plants, inducing them to produce denser arrays of leaves and buds on shorter stalks. The result was a compact bush that was almost indistinguishable from surrounding vegetation except upon close inspection.

Even so, growing the plants on one's own property had a remaining disadvantage: In the unlikely event that the cultivation was discovered, ownership was readily established, and a prison sentence or stiff fine was the likely outcome. Hence, serious growers began using public lands to raise their crops. They soon discovered that state and national forests were ideal. Typically, no one lived there. Access to remote areas was difficult. And the lush indigenous vegetation shielded the marijuana plants from the eyes of both visitors and forest rangers. Most importantly, even if the plants happened to be discovered, ownership was almost impossible to prove, leaving the growers free to plant a replacement crop.[9]

Naturally, since growers were taking extra efforts with their plants, they sought to improve them so as to increase the financial returns.

They soon found that the application of bone meal and a few other nutrients not only enhanced the growth of the plants but raised their potency by increasing the plant's production of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Growers also learned that when they separated the female plants from the male plants, the isolated females would produce enormous THC-loaded buds in their futile efforts to become inseminated. Because of its high THC content, the resulting sinsemilla (seedless) marijuana carried a punch ten to twenty times greater than that of the imported marijuana it replaced.[10]

The ultimate outcome of early success against marijuana imports was thus singularly perverse. Not only was domestic production encouraged, but the resulting development of guerrilla agriculture techniques in the United States yielded a product that was, from the perspective of its consumers, vastly improved. Marijuana supplies in the United States soon became more plentiful, more potent, and less expensive than ever before.

The ability of psychoactive plants to flourish under a wide variety of conditions has produced another twist: Suppliers have been able to select growing locations that make the interdiction efforts of authorities unlikely to succeed.[11] The coca plant, for example, has been grown for centuries in the Andes Mountains, where residents chew the leaves to stave off hunger and to increase work endurance. The efforts of South American governments to eradicate coca have led peasants simply to move their fields farther up the mountains and away from road systems. As a result, modest (but well-publicized) early successes in eradicating crops quickly became futile searches for the fields planted to replace them. Government attempts to eradicate marijuana fields in Mexico and Thailand, or poppy fields in Turkey and Myanmar (formerly Burma), have met with similar responses by growers in those nations: Operations are simply moved to less accessible areas. Guerrilla armies have long known that difficult terrain is an ally against numerically superior opponents. Guerrilla farmers have found the same ally in their battles with government forces seeking to put them out of business.


The nations where most of the world's psychoactive plants are grown share an overriding characteristic: They are poor, horribly poor by the standards of the United States and Western Europe.[12] Mexico, an important source of marijuana, is the most prosperous of the major supplier nations, with an average per capita income of about $2,000 a year. In Colombia, where most cocaine is processed, average income is less than $1,500 per year, and in Bolivia, the biggest supplier of coca leaves, annual income is under $800 per person. In the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia, an important source of both marijuana and heroin, a person who earns the equivalent of $10 per week is considered modestly prosperous.

The crushing poverty of these nations creates powerful forces that make suppression of their drug trade most unlikely. These forces are well illustrated in the nations that supply cocaine. Almost all of the world's cocaine derives from the leaves of coca bushes cultivated in South America. Peru and Bolivia grow about 80 percent of the South American crop, with Colombia accounting for the remaining plants.[13] Processing of the coca leaves into the final product, cocaine hydrochloride powder, takes place chiefly in Colombia, which also serves as the principal point of export to the United States and Europe.[14]

The cocaine supply chain begins with the peasants of these countries, whose existence depends on agriculture. The typical plot of land cultivated by a peasant family covers about 2.5 acres. A family using the land to raise livestock can hope to earn at most $100 per year; a crop such as maize can bring in $300 more. But if the land is suitable and the family is willing, earnings of $1,200 to $1,500 per year are assured if the crop is coca.[15]

In recent years, U.S. government officials have repeatedly proposed halting the cocaine trade by inducing South American peasants to give up growing coca in favor of "alternative agriculture," such as livestock husbandry or the cultivation of other crops. As the numbers above make clear, such a notion is patently absurd, for it would require peasant families to voluntarily give up 70 Percent or more of their income. Asking such families to rely on "alternative agriculture' is akin to asking them to court death by starvation.[16]

In these poverty-stricken settings of South America, bribes and intimidation become the order of the day. A mid-level law-enforcement official in Colombia earns at best $200 per month from his job; in Bolivia, the figure is 50 percent lower.[17] By turning his back on a single drug deal, the official can double his income. A senior policeman who regularly cooperates with smugglers can easily raise his annual income to ten times the national average. For the police and many other government officials in Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru, simply ignoring drug transactions can make the difference between a life of bare subsistence and one of prosperity.[18]

If the carrot won't work, there is always the stick. As in most nations where the difference between life and death routinely turns on no more than this year's harvest, the financial cost of assassination is low. In Medellin, Colombia, a routine murder (a trabajito, or "little job") can easily be arranged for $100.[19] A more complicated task, such as the execution of a government cabinet minister, might cost as much as $20,000 (about ten minutes' worth of profits for the Medellin cocaine cartel). Partly as a result of the ample supply of would-be assassins, the per capita homicide rate in Medellin is five times higher than in New York City. As one commentator has put it, the choice facing politicians, judges, policemen, and editors in the drug-supplying nations is quite simple: "Turn a blind eye and you get $10,000; take notice and your son gets killed."[20]

Quite apart from the survival value of cooperating with (or at least ignoring) the drug cartels, the political obstacles facing antidrug campaigns in nations such as Mexico, Colombia, and Peru are enormous. Largely as a result of the drug appetites of American consumers, the richest in the world, drugs now constitute a significant part of the economies of supplying nations. The export of coca leaves earns Bolivia perhaps $600 million per year, enough money to support 30 to 40 percent of its population.[21] Roughly one-third of all illegal drugs and perhaps 70 percent of the cocaine now entering the United States is estimated to enter the country by way of Mexico, much of it transshipped from Southeast Asia or South America.[22] Simply moving the drugs through the country and across the border provides employment for tens of thousands of Mexicans. Cocaine, along with coffee and cut flowers, is one of Colombia's three most important sources of export earnings.[23] Indeed, cocaine is more important to the Colombian economy than the automobile industry is to the U.S. economy. It is little wonder then that government leaders in these nations balk at American demands that they cripple their nations' economies to solve the American drug problem.


At current street prices, high-quality sinsemilla marijuana is more expensive than fine Beluga caviar, cocaine is more valuable than pure gold, and gram for gram, heroin is worth more than $1,000 bills. Yet an ounce of pharmaceutical grade (pure) cocaine can be manufactured in this country for about $50. Cut to a street-level purity of, say, 60 percent, and sold on the streets of Los Angeles, that ounce has a value of about $2,500. Even under the difficult conditions faced by cocaine processors in Colombia, where necessary chemicals must be smuggled into the country and the final product smuggled out, the cost of manufacturing cocaine is less than 5 percent of its street value in America. Similarly, marijuana that sells for $100 in the United States can be grown and harvested in Mexico for about $1. And a quantity of heroin that sells for $1,000 in America can be manufactured for less than $10 in Thailand.

The enormous difference between the foreign export price of psychoactive drugs and their street value in the United States can be accounted for in part by the standard distribution costs associated with all goods, but the difference is primarily due to the high risks associated with dealing in illegal substances. In any event, the relatively low value of psychoactives at their point of origin yields a simple but striking conclusion: Even spectacular successes in driving up the costs of growing and processing psychoactives are unlikely to have much impact on their street price, and thus unlikely to have much impact on total consumption.

Consider the following example. Under current market conditions, cocaine with a street value of $100 in the United States can be manufactured in Colombia for about $4, an amount that includes the cost of the coca leaves and all of the chemicals, labor, and equipment used to convert the leaves into cocaine hydrochloride powder. Suppose that a massive new interdiction effort causes manufacturing costs to triple to $12 from $4. Naturally, this $8 increase in costs will cause the price in the United States to rise from its original level of $100; but as a first approximation, the United States price will change by only about 8 percent, that is, by $8/$100, the rise in manufacturing costs divided by the original price. Thus, even a massive rise in the costs of psychoactives at early stages in the distribution process will have only a minor effect on the prices paid by consumers, and therefore a negligible effect on consumption of the drugs themselves.

The essential features of this example are borne out by experience. In the late 1980s, the United States was spending about $2 billion per year on efforts to stem the flood of incoming cocaine.[24] Using resources ranging from drug-sniffing dogs to radar-equipped blimps, the government succeeded in confiscating record amounts of cocaine and in making smuggling operations more difficult and more costly. Despite this, a recent study by the Rand Corporation came to a sobering conclusion: The total impact of the nearly $6 billion spent on coast guard helicopters, Customs Service jets, and radar-equipped blimps succeeded in raising the street price of cocaine in the United States by only 4 percent relative to what it otherwise would have been.[25] The study also estimated that for each additional 2 percent hike in the street price of cocaine, an additional $1 billion per year will have to be spent on protecting our borders from smugglers.

The compact physical bulk of most psychoactives compared to their street value makes the battle against smuggling especially difficult. An ordinary automobile tire weighs roughly eighteen pounds (about eight kilograms). Imported to the United States from South America or Asia and hidden within a shipment of 40,000 other tires, that tire can be used to smuggle in $1 million worth of cocaine, or $ 10 million worth of heroin. A few handfuls of hollow plastic bananas can be filled with $500,000 worth of cocaine and secreted within a twenty-ton shipment of bananas from South America. A million dollars worth of heroin can be hidden inside just one of the hundreds of thousands of personal computer terminals imported to the United States each year. The list of items within which illegal drugs can be and have been imported is almost limitless. Inspecting every one of the steel cargo containers used to bring in 90 percent of America's imports would require the full-time services of more than 300,000 customs inspectors, and would bring the country's international trade to a grinding halt.[26],

Even if officials could somehow inspect every item of imported commerce, the United States still has more than 12,000 miles of coastline, and 7,500 miles of land bordering Canada and Mexico. Across these shores and borders each year pass 574,000 airplanes, 177,000 ships and boats, and 118,000,000 automobiles. Every one of them is a potential smuggling vehicle, as are the bodies of the 422 million people who come into this country every year. It is little wonder that one expert has remarked that our search for illegal drug imports makes looking for a needle in a haystack seem like child's play.


Recognizing many of the difficulties we have noted, the U.S. government has turned to sophisticated technology in the war on drugs. The problem - as drug-enforcement officials are now admitting publicly - is that the drug dealers frequently have the technology first, and obtain it more cheaply as well. The enforcement agencies must deal with the cumbersome congressional budget process to obtain the funds for new technology, and then must meet all the rules of the government procurement process to convert the money into enforcement tools. The drug dealers have plenty of money and play by their own rules. When new technology comes along, they pay cash, on the spot. As one veteran customs agent put it, "They are inherently flexible; we're not. That's why we always lose."[27]

Then there is the matter of cost. The drug dealers can strike with anything anywhere, but when they do, enforcement officials must be prepared to react to the exact methods chosen by the drug dealers. As a result, according to Anthony Bocchichio, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration's technical operations unit in Washington, D.C., devices that counteract a smuggling innovation cost ten to fifteen times as much as the innovation costs. For example, since conventional telephones (used to place and take orders for drugs) are fairly easy to tap, the drug dealers switched to cellular telephones, which cost $500 to $ 1,000 apiece. To tap cellular phones, the government must buy devices that cost $15,000 apiece.[28]

The technology duel between drug agents and drug dealers has gone on for years and the process of action and reaction seems to escalate on a monthly basis.[29] To track planes flying drugs out of Colombia, U.S. Customs agents managed to conceal radio transponders on a few of them. The transponders enabled the agents to keep track of the planes in the air, and thus capture the smugglers when they landed. To counteract this, the smugglers purchased radio frequency detectors ($30 each at the local Radio Shack) to inspect their planes for transponders before takeoff. Customs agents reacted by implanting transponders that did not begin sending their signals until the planes had reached a certain altitude. The smugglers simply took their detection devices along with them in the planes. Exasperated, drug agents resorted to exotic transponders that did not begin broadcasting until the planes on which they were implanted turned north, as they commonly did only when nearing the U.S. coast. Smugglers counteracted by flying in circles around their home airports, thereby triggering the transponders' signals and alerting the smugglers to their presence. The drug warriors finally gave up on the idea of implanting transponders on smugglers' planes. And the taxpayer money spent on the devices? Gone, with nothing -- save for a few stories -- to show for it.


Who is more motivated - a drug trafficker, or the enforcement agent trying to stop him? A drug smuggler, describing the duels between drug runners and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in fast boats along the Florida coast, gave this answer:

There are places [along the coast] where the water is two feet deep and less, and the channels that you have to use are unmarked. Now, a good doper knows those channels because he studies them. He's also making ten, twelve, fifteen thousand dollars - it depends on the load - for four hours' work, and for that kind of money he is expected to take the risk of getting it wrong. The guy chasing him is making maybe a hundred bucks for a shift, on which he is going to pay tax, and if he hits that sandbank at sixty miles an hour he isn't going to collect his pension because he's going to be dead. Now, you're in the Customs boat heading for the sandbank: Which way do you want to push the throttle?[30]

This simple story helps illustrate why both innovation and adaptation in the drug wars so often favor the bad guys. For drug dealers, the rewards of developing new ways of bringing drugs to market (or of adapting to the latest methods of the drug warriors) are enormous, compelling enough for them to risk prison terms or death, or to murder anyone who stands in their way.

Compare this with the incentives facing law-enforcement officials, who are paid whether they catch the dealers or not. Quite simply, the drug warriors have little economic stake in the success or failure of their efforts, and equally little incentive to risk life and limb. Certainly, some may get publicity, and others may even get salary increases; but these are small compensations for risking their lives. Because their expected rewards - huge profits - are so much greater, drug dealers are willing to face a far greater risk of violent death than are drug-enforcement agents, and they are more willing and able to innovate and adapt as well. The common notion that drug warriors are a group of dedicated individuals constantly thinking up ways to outsmart the bad guys surely has an element of truth to it, but by and large, it is the bad guys who spend their time trying to figure out ways to outsmart the good guys. It is the drug dealers who are constantly seeking new products and delivery systems to give them a competitive edge, and it is the dealers who adapt the most quickly to changing conditions, because the bad guys - the dealers - have greater incentives to do so. The rate of innovation and adaptation in the drug-enforcement agencies is much slower than it is within the drug trafficking business, simply because the rewards are structured to make it so.


Many military personnel who served in Vietnam learned firsthand about the balloon principle: A military thrust into one part of the country yielded a temporary inward bulge at the point of attack, but no change in the overall size of the enemy presence. The military personnel who have entered the drug war have found the same principle at work. Consider a recent eighteen-hour drama involving the armed forces of the United States and Canada, as well as numerous law-enforcement agencies on both sides of the border.[31]

On the morning of March 12, 1989, a twin-engine executive turbojet loaded with half a ton of cocaine and thirty-eight seven-gallon cans of extra fuel took off from a small airfield in northern Colombia. As part of a $300 million supplement added to the defense budget for drug interdiction, extra radar had been installed at critical points along the East Coast of the United States in anticipation of just such an occasion. But the Colombian plane flew along a path outside the new land-based radar. As luck would have it, an Air Force E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) plane on a training mission happened to pick up the turbojet blip on its radar. Customs agents aboard the AWACS plane decided the turbojet might be on a drug mission.

In response to the customs alert, two Air National Guard F-16 fighter planes were launched from a North American Air Defense Command base in Maine. The lead fighter saw the Colombian jet as it was nearing the coast of Nova Scotia, flying without running lights. Staying far enough behind to avoid alerting the drug-runners, the F-16s shadowed the turbojet until their fuel ran low. Two more F-16s, launched by Vermont's Air National Guard unit, took their place. Meanwhile, a U.S. Customs Service interdiction unit with a specially equipped airplane and a Blackhawk helicopter crew happened to be at the airport in Bangor, Maine. Three customs agents piled into the plane and joined the chase. The Blackhawk crew waited at the airport for a team of Canadian Mounties, just in case arrests had to be made in Canada.

At 11:00 p.m. the Colombian jet landed at Sorel, a small town fifty miles northeast of Montreal. Unfortunately, Canada had not yet given the pursuing customs plane permission to land, so it had to circle overhead. Viewing the field through night-vision goggles, the customs pilot saw a small truck pull alongside the Colombian plane and unload numerous duffel bags. As the customs plane began its long-delayed landing, the truck sped away into the night, headed south with at least half a ton of cocaine. Without the evidence, the pilots of the Colombian plane could be charged only with a few minor offenses, including bringing a stolen plane into Canada. They were fined $23,000, which they paid in cash. The Colombians were deported a few days later. Nobody went to jail.

An F-16 costs $2,300 an hour to operate; an AWACS plane, $3,000 an hour. How much is the American taxpayer getting for his or her money? Not much. The vast majority of the 700 or 800 airplanes the Customs Service chases each year are on legal flights. In 1987 alone, the Air Force spent $2.6 million flying AWACS planes on antidrug missions that resulted in only six drug seizures and ten arrests. In round numbers, that works out to $260,000 per arrest, or $433,000 per seizure.

Both the Customs Service and Congress seem undaunted by such numbers. After all, the reasoning seems to be, if the cause is just, what does it matter how much of the taxpayers' money is spent? Thus, the Customs Service is now pumping an additional half a billion dollars into its efforts to stop drug smuggling across the southern U.S. border.[32] The heart of the system is a chain of overlapping, blimp-mounted radar stations backed with sophisticated aircraft and command centers. The first of these blimps was raised over southern Florida. In response, some air smugglers began dropping their drugs well offshore, and ferrying them to shore on small boats virtually invisible to the radar. Others simply diverted their planes into Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Still others began flying drugs in via Mexico. Most likely, when the blimps are finally in place across the southwest border, planes will simply dart into U.S. airspace, drop their drugs, and return to Mexico before aircraft interceptors can reach them.

As it turns out, the customs project was doomed before it began, because air smuggling across the southern border was already declining. The Medellin and Cali cartels have vastly expanded their ground-based smuggling through Mexico, hiding cocaine in some of the millions of cars and trucks that cross the U.S. border each month and using human "mules" to bring it across the border by foot on routes also used by illegal aliens.[33] Even more ominously, the cocaine cartels have discovered the wonders of cargo containers, stacked ten-deep within and upon giant container ships. These scaled twelve-by-eight-by-twenty-foot steel boxes can be inspected only if they are thoroughly unpacked, and it takes customs officials eight working days to inspect one container. Since there are currently almost 9 million cargo containers entering the United States every year, it would take more than 65 million agent-days to inspect them all.[34] The probable cost of such a venture would be $27 billion a year, not including the costs of disrupting international trade. The probable outcome would be that smugglers would find a new route before the program was ever in place. Sometimes it seems that even the mightiest government in the world can do no more than dent the balloon.


Suppose we made a real breakthrough on the interdiction front, perhaps by simply shooting anyone attempting to smuggle psychoactives into the country.* [*While this may sound absurd, in 1989 there was active discussion at the highest U.S. government levels of' the possibility of shooting down planes that were suspected of drug smuggling. Conceivably, we could extend a similar policy to ships, cars, and trucks suspected of being involved in smuggling.] Such a policy would obviously reduce smuggling, possibly dramatically. But the effects on drug use would be much less substantial, simply because domestic production is a remarkably good alternative to imports. Recall that domestic production of marijuana was negligible until government efforts to halt its importation began to have some modest successes in the late 1970s. Now domestic cultivation comprises 25 percent of U.S. consumption and the average potency of marijuana has risen.[35] Given the ease with which marijuana can be grown indoors, and the huge tracts of public land on which it can be grown outdoors, further reducing marijuana imports will serve chiefly to stimulate additional domestic cultivation.

By contrast, domestic cultivation of coca bushes or opium poppies is less likely to result from success against imports of cocaine or heroin. For one thing, the likelihood of subfreezing winter temperatures rules out year-round production of either crop throughout much of the United States. The fact that about 500 pounds of coca leaves are needed to make a pound of cocaine also makes domestic cultivation of this plant unlikely. Commercial coca production would require plantation-sized operations, which would be too easy for the authorities to detect. Large-scale domestic production of opium poppies is equally unlikely, because harvesting the poppy's sap (the basis for heroin) is labor-intensive, and thus inordinately expensive given the relatively high wages in this country.

In any case, the marvels of modern chemistry would come to the rescue of cocaine and heroin users in the event of a reduction in imports. There already exists a superb substitute for cocaine - methamphetamine hydrochloride, or "methedrine" - and many experts believe it will soon supplant cocaine. This powerful stimulant was developed in Japan, where its use became widespread during World War II when it was given in liquid form to soldiers and munitions workers to enhance their stamina. Widespread abuse of the drug after the war prompted Japan to make it illegal, but production simply shifted to South Korea.[36]

In recent years, a smokable form of methedrine, called "crystal meth" or simply "ice," has been developed. Ice produces an intense, euphoric high much like that of the cocaine derivative "crack," but it has three distinct advantages over both cocaine and crack. First, it is cheap: $50 worth of crystal meth is sufficient to keep someone high for a week. Second, it is potent: Its effects routinely last eight hours or more, whereas the effects of crack last only twenty or thirty minutes, and the high from cocaine only about an hour. Third, it is convenient: It can be made at home, using raw materials that can be purchased legally. The use of crystal meth is currently spreading rapidly through the United States. Any significant disruption in cocaine imports would simply serve to hasten that spread.[37]

Chemistry would come to the aid of heroin users as well, should interdiction efforts make any significant inroads on the importation of their drug of choice. III-Methylfentanyl is a synthetic, heroinlike narcotic that is 100 times more potent than heroin ounce for ounce. It can be, and is, manufactured in back-room laboratories using chemicals available from reputable pharmaceutical and chemical companies. Although production appears to be on a small scale so far, a number of emergency rooms across the country have already reported cases of overdoses involving this potent depressant. Moreover, in 1989 an industrial chemist was arrested with enough III-Methylfentanyl in his possession for 10 million doses of the stuff, enough to keep every heroin addict in America satisfied for a long time.[38]

The unfortunate circumstances facing us have been aptly summarized by an official of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration:

Even if the drug lords decide to stay with cocaine and heroin, these substances can be chemically synthesized from scratch, and the day may come when the drug merchants can get along without the natural raw materials - coca and opium. But for the time being, the economics are against it.[39]

Simply put, ample, low-cost supplies of nature's own raw materials have kept the back-room chemists at bay so far, but any significant disruptions in the existing supply chains will be met with a flood of synthetic substitutes.


The battle to undo drugs in America cannot be won in the mountains of South America, in the shallow waters of Biscayne Bay, Florida, nor in basement laboratories scattered across America. Even the best efforts of today's drug warriors are rendered futile by the nature of supply conditions. First, there are literally millions of square miles on the earth's surface suitable for the production of these drugs. Even major success in closing down current production sites would simply cause production to begin elsewhere. Second, the incentive structure in producer nations - prosperity for those who participate, imminent peril for those who do not - makes it wishful thinking to hope that the residents of those nations will voluntarily curb their exports of psychoactives. This same incentive structure, of course, makes it unlikely that we could ever offer sufficient inducements or penalties to force people to acquiesce to our wishes. Third, the low production costs and high street value of psychoactives, combined with the multitude of methods by which they can be brought into the country, make it inconceivable that we can stop the flood of drugs at our own borders. Finally, the possibility of domestic U.S. production, either in basement grow rooms or back-room laboratories, means that even if we quash imports of psychoactives, consumption will continue, largely unchecked. Stemming the supply of illegal psychoactivcs nationwide is simply not in the cards.


Chapter 2: Scourge

1. USDA source, cited in Ethan Nadelmann, "Drug Prohibition in the United States: Costs, Consequences, and Alternatives," Science 245 (September 1, 1989): 939.

2. Lindsey Gruson, "Drug Trafficking and Poppy Growing a Lush Home in Guatemala,'' New York Times, October 1, 1989, p. 12.

3. Mark A. R. Kleiman, Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (New York: Greenwood Press, 1989).

4. Nadelmann, "Drug Prohibition," p. 939, and Susan Hamilton Saavedra, ''Dire Economics Drive Coca Production," The Drug Policy Letter, no. 3 (May/June 1990): 2.

5. Kleiman, Marijuana.

6. John Kaplan, The Hardest Drug: Heroin and Public Policy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983).

7. Ibid. See also Fred Zackon, Heroin: The Street Narcotic (New York: Chelsea House, 1986).

8. Kleiman, Marijuana.

9. Jack Kelley, "40% in County Said to Grow Weed," USA Today, JuIy 11, 1989, P. 1.

10. Kleiman, Marijuana.

11. James Brooke, "Peruvian Farmers Razing Rain Forests to Sow Drug Crops," New York Times, August 13, 1989, p. 1.

12. The World Almanac and Book of Facts: 1990 (New York: Pharos Books, 1990).

13. Saavedra, "Dire Economics." See also Elaine Shannon, ''Attacking the Source," Time, August 28, 1989, p. 10.

14. "Drugs: It Doesn't Have to Be Like This," The Economist, September 2, 1989, p. 2ff. See also Stanley Penn, "U.S.-Made Chemicals Supply Narcotics Labs Across Latin America," Wall Street Journal, July 13, 1988, p. 1,

15. Andrea Gabor, "Cocaine Countries Try to Grow Straight," U.S. News and World Report, October 23, 1989, p. 57.

16. Saavedra, ''Dire Economics."

17. R. W. Lee, White Labyrinth: Cocaine and Political Power (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1990).

18. Ibid. See also Tina Rosenberg, "The Kingdom of Cocaine," New Republic, November 27, 1989, p. 26; and Michael Massing, "In the War on Drugs, the Jungle Is Winning," New York Times Magazine, March 4, 1990, p. 267.

19. Paul Eddy et al., The Cocaine Wars (New York: W. W. Norton, 1988). See also Jose de Cordoba, "In Colombia, the War on Drugs Is Producing Some Real - Life Heroes, '' Wall Street Journal, September 7, 1989, p. 1.

20. ''Colombia's Cocaine Overdose," The Economist, August 26, 1989, p. 29.

21. Saavedra, "Dire Economics."

22. Richard Wallace, "Mexico Displaces S. Florida as Drug Smuggling Mecca,'' Miami Herald, November 3, 1990, p. 1 .

23. Peter Passell, "Fighting Cocaine, Coffee, Flowers," New York Times, September 20, 1989, p. 28. See also Saavedra, ''Dire Economics."

24. Paul M. Barrett, "Federal War on Drugs Is a Scattershot Affair, with Dubious Progress, " Wall Street Journal, August 10, 1989, p. 1.

25. Ibid. See also Peter Reuter, "Can the Borders Be Scaled?" Public Interest 90 (Summer 1988): 51.

26. See also Joseph B. Treaster, "Bypassing Borders, More Drugs Flood Ports," New York Times, April 29, 1990, p. 1.

27. Frank Greve, ''In Drug War, Crafty Smugglers Stay a Step Ahead," Miami Herald, December 18, 1989, p. 1.

28. Ibid.

29. Ibid.

30. Eddy et al., The Cocaine Wars, p. 83.

31. John J. Fialka, ''The Military ' v Enters the War on Drugs and Finds Elusive Foe," Wall Street Journal, August 31, 1989, p. 1.

32. Douglas Waller, "Risky Business," Newsweek, July 16, 1990, p. 17.

33. Wallace, "Mexico Displaces S. Florida," p. 1.

34. Treaster, "Bypassing Borders," p. 1.

35. Kleiman, Marijuana.

36. Michael A. Lerner, ''The Fire of Ice," Newsweek, November 27, 1989, p. 37.

37. Katherine Bishop, "Fear Grows Over Effects of New Smokable Drug," New York Times, September 16, 1989, p. 1.

38. Malcolm W. Browne, "Problems Loom in Effort to Control Use of Chemicals for Illicit Drugs," New York Times, October 24, 1989, p. 17.

39. Ibid.


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Registered: 06/04/09
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Loc: Santa Cruz
Last seen: 14 years, 2 months
Re: Coca Cultivation [Re: Stoneth]
    #280590 - 09/15/09 11:03 AM (14 years, 6 months ago)

The extraction part is relatively easy, there's info how to do it online and it's not much different than most other plant extractions. However, to get a usable amount of cocaine you'd need too many plants. :shrug:

But for coca use purposes, ie brewing tea or chewing leaves, it can be worth it. I was considering growing for a while, but couldnt find a place I trusted to get seeds and decided it wasn't worth the effort. Plus I don't live in a climate that would be good for coca and don't have a greenhouse.

If you decide to go through with it keep us posted, but IMO it'd be more fun to grow poppies or salvia or something else instead.

Even a fish could stay out of trouble if he learned to keep his mouth shut.
Indoor Floro Troublemaker/ Troublemaker x WW grow
Indoor 1000w HPS Soil Grow- *updated*

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Registered: 05/31/09
Posts: 2,662
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Re: Coca Cultivation [Re: Zippy]
    #280636 - 09/15/09 12:26 PM (14 years, 6 months ago)

I was thinking Salvia too, but I don't really enjoy the stuff and it is illegal here.  Louisiana is subtropical, which is ideal for Coca cultivation except that it is not at a high altitude.  I  doubt that i would need artificial humidity, as it is really freakin' humid around here. 
From what I have read any seed vendor is either going to either be totally illegitimate or charge like $20 for a seed that is possibly no good.

Edited by stoney.69 (09/15/09 01:38 PM)

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Mind Pilot

Registered: 02/09/09
Posts: 3,471
Loc: Hawaiian Islands Flag
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Re: Coca Cultivation [Re: Stoneth]
    #280662 - 09/15/09 01:05 PM (14 years, 6 months ago)

Good, interesting read Stoney!
thanks for sharing!:thumbup:


:guns: Don't Mistake My Kindness For Weakness :guns:

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Posts: 24,983
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Re: Coca Cultivation [Re: SpaceMonkey]
    #280692 - 09/15/09 01:39 PM (14 years, 6 months ago)

Glad you liked it.


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Drunk Derelict
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Re: Coca Cultivation [Re: SmOakland]
    #280753 - 09/15/09 03:11 PM (14 years, 6 months ago)

Takes to many plants to get  what you want.

how about some cactus?






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Mr Nice
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Registered: 09/06/09
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Re: Coca Cultivation [Re: SmOakland]
    #280787 - 09/15/09 05:55 PM (14 years, 6 months ago)

Main problems are that the decent alkaloids are produced by plants grown at high altitude.  The other problem is that cocaine yield from plants is extremely low in generally.  Couple these together and you are likely to get fuck all from a home grow / extraction.

You could grow your whole backyard for a few years and only yield a couple of grams of poor gear.

My friend got 1000g of dried leaf from peru and only got a couple of grams of bazooka (impure crack) back from her extraction.

These peruvian farmers work for pennies a day - thats why its worth it too them.  The economy is a power structure and those guys ar at the bottom of it in comparison to us.  They get a good wage in comparison to other farmers growing coffee or what not tho.  We are technically born wealthy just because our money is valued at so much more than these 3rd world countries.

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You Have Heard of the Yetti

Registered: 04/21/08
Posts: 1,918
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Re: Coca Cultivation [Re: SmOakland]
    #280811 - 09/15/09 07:20 PM (14 years, 6 months ago)


SmOakland said:
So I am in Louisiana and am taking a break from cannabis cultivation, as I am attending a University and living in dorms.  However, I wanted to know if anybody has experience growing coca plants and extracting cocaine.  I know that it is impractical in terms of effort/$ put into the project for drugs produced, but I like growing plants and am also a chemistry is one of my hobbies.  Anybody know about legitimate seed acquisition?

You can definitely get seeds.

But depending on the type of coca plant you have, the plant might take 2 years to mature. Plus, you need ample altitude for optimal growing conditions.

sǝıqɐq ɹɐʇ

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