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Interview: Drug production, trafficking blight for all Latin America: UNODC

MEXICO CITY, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Drug trafficking will not stop being a problem for countries across Latin America, given the scale of production, trafficking and consumption in the region, warned Antonio Mazzitelli, regional representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

In an interview with Xinhua on Sunday, the envoy explained that, unlike in the past, there is now very little practical difference between countries producing drugs and those transporting them along the routes to major markets.

Furthermore, Mazzitelli emphasized that internal drug consumption has risen in almost all Latin American countries in the last decade, meaning that governments must collaborate closely to address the social causes for the rising problem.

"The distinction between countries of transportation, origin and destination is being progressively eliminated. All countries are now becoming countries of transportation, origin and destination," said the UNODC representative for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

The UNODC World Drug Report 2015 stated that Peru, Bolivia and Colombia are the largest cocaine producers in the world, although previous destination markets like the United States and Europe now have more clandestine labs where the coca leaf is processed.

It added that countries like Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Venezuela have taken measures to dismantle thousands of such labs in recent years.

"Common operations and objectives must be strengthened in the fight against organized crime and drug trafficking, while seeking more efficient measures to counter the demand for drugs," explained Mazzitelli.

The UNODC report estimates that around 20 percent of the estimated 17 million cocaine consumers around the world are in Latin America.

Furthermore, the consumption of marijuana is rising in the region, which claims 30 percent of all the marijuana worldwide.

UN statistics estimate that drug consumption killed 10,900 people across Latin America in 2013, while rising violence has ravaged certain countries in the region.

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