The Jungles Are Deep and The Oceans Wide

By Cameron Montano

Today, the UNODC was tasked with reforming the UN’s ongoing attempts to deal with illicit drug trade. Considering the varied nature of this problem, it is not shocking that the solutions proposed by the committee vary far and wide and include everything from full scale legalization of all drugs to more draconian regulations for illicit drugs than are currently in place.

However, one idea that has been backed by many delegates is the massive increase in efforts being made to locate drug production and cultivation sites, in order to massively decrease the world’s drug supplies. In order to achieve this, many delegates have proposed a large increase in the number of physical drug patrols in areas where drugs are commonly grown, i.e. South America, parts of Asia, and parts of the Middle East where opium cultivation is especially high. The use of new satellite technology has been proposed to look for areas of drug cultivation.

While these ideas sound great on paper, they may not be so great in practice. Increased attempts at curbing drug cultivation is a case of “easier said than done." First, most recreational drugs are cultivated in remote areas, such as deep in the jungles of Asia and South America. These are some of the most dangerous and dense jungles in the world. Second, recreational drug plantations are incredibly small. Fields of Poppy or Coca are not the massive drug fields people imagine. According to a report released by the UNODC in 2008, there are currently only 170,000 hectares of cocaine fields globally, an area only 50% larger than all of Hong Kong! Now imagine looking for a total area that small scattered over a whole content, deep inside a dangerous and dense jungle. It sounds like finding a needle in a haystack, and everyone knows how easy that is.