US official: Despite coca surge, aerial fumigation unlikely

Mar 8, 2017

The U.S. State Department's top anti-narcotics official says despite skyrocketing cocaine production authorities are unlikely to return to the controversial aerial spraying ended amid health concerns

BOGOTA, Colombia — The U.S. State Department's top anti-narcotics official says Colombia is unlikely to resume aerial spraying of coca crops despite skyrocketing production of cocaine.

William Brownfield also characterizes President Donald Trump's proposal to slash foreign aid by 37 percent as "a bit worrying," although he says such cuts wouldn't represent a crisis if they materialize.

After years of steady declines, Colombian cocaine production began surging in 2014 and is now at levels unseen since the U.S.-backed Plan Colombia started in 1999.

Brownfield is visiting Colombia. In an interview published Wednesday by local newspaper El Tiempo, he attributes the rise to Colombia's ending of aerial fumigation in 2014 over health concerns and unintended incentives in a peace deal with rebels that lead farmers in rebel-dominated areas to grow coca.