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Paraguay Drug Consumption Problem

Paraguay is a small country that, as far as the media is concerned, seems hidden under the bulk of Brazil. Make a search of the New York Times or the Washington Post for Paraguay and about all you will come up with is the fact that the Paraguayan soccer team made it to the quarterfinals of the last World Cup.

This landlocked country about the size of California is wedged between Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil. Its physical location puts it in a good position to be utilized for international drug transit and the production of cannabis destined for other South American countries. One wonders if the current trend of low domestic drug consumption can possibly last.

Paraguay Known for Some of Highest Cannabis Production in the World

The UN reports that Paraguay is the highest cannabis producer in South America, and internationally, only Mexico and Morocco produce more. Cannabis travels from Paraguay into Argentina, a country with high rates of cannabis consumption, and Brazil. The largest and most frequent cannabis seizures occur along the border with Brazil and most particularly in the corner where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay all meet, around Ciudad Del Este. Many of the drug traffickers arrested in these border areas are Brazilian.

Most countries in South American point to Paraguay as their source country for cannabis in their country, notably Brazil, Argentina and Chile. As cannabis production increased in Paraguay, consumption in Brazil nearly tripled between 2001 and 2005. Argentina's consumption increased even more. Approximately 85 percent of Paraguay's cannabis is destined for Brazil, 10 to 15 percent for other countries in the Southern Cone (the bottom half of South America) and just two to three percent for Paraguayans.

In 2006, it was estimated that Paraguay produced 5,900 metric tons of the drug. This is more than half of the cannabis produced in the entirety of South America. Additionally, Paraguayan cannabis is known for its high potency, which places it in demand among consumers. And new strains of cannabis can be harvested all year round.

Corruption and Porous Borders Enable Traffickers to Utilize Paraguay for their Purposes

Widespread corruption enables drug traffickers to use the financial institutions of the country to move their illicit proceeds from country to country and to move precursor chemicals for methamphetamine or cocaine manufacture and cocaine through the country. For example, cocaine travels through Paraguay from Bolivia on its way to Europe, Africa or Southern Cone countries.

Not surprisingly then, methamphetamine consumption has recently seen an increase in Paraguay and some other South and Central American countries.

In a flagrant example of corruption enabling drug trafficking and manufacturing, a government official suspected of strong ties with traffickers was named the Chief of Police in a northwest Paraguayan district that is becoming a major corridor for the movement of drugs by ground transport and air.

Paraguayan Government Works Hard to Prevent Drug Abuse Among the Young

Since 2005, the Office of Demand Reduction has reached tens of thousands of students in hundreds of schools each year with drug awareness programs. Currently, student use of cannabis, cocaine and opiates is low, the government intends to maintain this trend. The most abused substance among students is glue and new laws are in the process of making the abusable forms of this substance less available.

Paraguay has recently turned to Brazil, a more affluent country with more resources, to help fight the trafficking, violence and problems connected with substance abuse and addiction.

The drug rehabilitation program and the drug education services of Narconon centers around the world give those wishing to eliminate addiction the tools to make headway against these problems. After the delivery of the eight-part Narconon drug education curriculum, students change their minds about using drugs and report lower rates of substance abuse. After graduating the holistic, drug-free Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, eight out of ten stay clean and sober and live enjoyable, productive lives once again.

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