Saturday, October 21, 2017

Cocaine - How its Made

Lumps of solidifying coca paste
In late 2016, Colombia sealed a peace deal with FARC, a left-wing rebel group. While authorities struggle to implement the deal, coca production has exploded. Colombia produces about 90% of the world's cocaine.
Coca plants grow just two months a year.

Coca leaves are mulched with a weed eater
The production process is simple and crude. Farmers pick leaves by hand and put them through a noxious process to eventually turn the leaves into paste, which is then sold to traffickers for refining.
Cement is sprinkled over mulched coca leaves

Ammonia, sulfuric acid, sodium permanganate, and caustic soda are used.

The resulting mixture is put into a press and the basic liquid extract of coca paste is squeezed out.
Noxious fumes emanate from marinating leaves, making breathing difficult. Coca extract is mixed with gasoline to extract alkaloid from the liquid mix.

It takes about a ton of coca leaves to make a kilo of the paste. Farmers can sell a kilo of paste for about $900.
The mixture of coca-leaf juice, gasoline, ether, and other chemicals will eventually be converted into coca paste. The paste is extracted after adding a strong acid into the mix that will further precipitate the alkaloid. The liquid coca paste is cooked to remove the water content.

The last step is called "fritada," or "fry-up." The coca paste residue is placed in water and heated until most of the water content is evaporated.
The liquid coca-paste residue is then crushed to be packed and sold. It is 40% to 91% cocaine sulfate. Later, the paste is made into cocaine that is eventually sold on the street.

Cocaine in its purest form is a white, pearly product. Cocaine appearing in powder form is a salt, typically cocaine hydrochloride. Most street cocaine is about 30% pure, the balance being cutting agents.

Coca paste ready for sale
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