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Cocaine and Faith in the Amazon (Part 2)

Coca has begun to grow in the Amazon basin near where the messianic sect known as the Israelites have settled, and Brazilian authorities suspect that members of the sect have become involved in the area’s growing drug trade.

by VICE News
Mar 27 2015, 10:20am

Watch Part 1

Peru is now the world's main supplier of coca, the raw plant material used to manufacture cocaine. In the last five years, coca production has grown the most in the tri-border region, an area deep in the Amazon where Colombia, Brazil and Peru meet.

The tri-border region is home to a messianic sect with apocalyptic beliefs whose members dress in biblical robes. Known as "Israelites," the religious group migrated to the Peruvian Amazon in 1995 in search of a promised land that's now infested with coca plantations.

VICE News traveled to Alto Monte de Israel, the sacred land of the Israelites, to meet them and understand how they cope with the existence of coca crops on their land, and whether they're involved in the drug trade.

In part two of a three-part series: Coca has begun to grow in the Amazon basin near where the messianic sect known as the Israelites have settled, and Brazilian authorities have their suspicions that members of the sect have become involved in the area's growing drug trade.

Watch "Peru: The New King of Coke"