Govt starts cocaine crackdown

A new government crackdown on cocaine begins today with drug minister Vernon Coaker announcing a £1 million FRANK campaign aimed at 15 to 18-year-olds and a government commitment to Colombia’s ‘Shared Responsibility’ campaign.

Mr Coaker will lead a summit this morning with representatives of the Colombian government, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) and various treatment agencies.

The government is said to be committed to a sophisticated media campaign, including online advertising, given the drug’s continued popularity among the young and successful. Cocaine is the only street drug whose use has risen over the last ten years. Just under five per cent of adults have used the drug over the last year.

Mr Coaker said: “Cocaine use has been stable in recent years but it is a very dangerous drug for users and has a devastating impact on the people that live in producing countries.

“Cocaine users need to realise that their drug use destroys more than their health; it destroys the lives of innocent people caught up in kidnapping, exploitation and armed violence.”

The initiative comes as Columbia’s government launches an all-out anti-cocaine initiative across the western world. The South Americans have decided to tackle users in Europe and America in an effort to cut down the demand for the drug.

The cultivation and sale of cocaine in Colombia funds several of the left-wing guerrilla groups which the Colombian government is intent on destroying.