Destroy the rainforest, use caustic chemicals, then mix in brutal violence and organized crime and bring to the boil. Top off with a generous dose of dental anaesthetic, then add the final ingredient: the casual drug user. This is the recipe for cocaine, says a new campaign launched on Wednesday by the UK's National Crime Agency.
The #EveryLineCounts campaign targets recreational drug users with a social conscience who "may not realise that their casual behaviour has devastating consequences for children, communities, and the environment in cocaine producing countries," the agency said on its website.
An animated video spells out just how much death, fear and environmental destruction is wreaked by the production and trafficking of cocaine, ending by pointing out that without casual drug users, "none of this has any point" and the black market industry would not exist.
Recreational users often have "no idea of the damage funded by their occasional line" and would likely be shocked by the reality, said Tony Saggers, the NCA's Head of Drugs Threat.
"When they use cocaine, aside from putting their own lives at risk, they are feeding an industry which routinely uses death, violence and destruction in its production process.
"Buying cocaine funds the exploitation of impoverished people, destroys and pollutes large areas of rainforest, forces people from their homes so coca can be grown on their land, and results in the murder of police officers and others who stand in the way of powerful crime groups. Those harms are usually out of sight of the end user, and we don't think they should be," he said.
Coca production drives deforestation in some of the most ecologically sensitive parts of the Amazon rainforest, and the chemicals involved in cocaine production in makeshift jungle laboratories poison water supplies for surrounding people and wildlife.
Communities across many Latin American countries — Colombia, Mexico and Honduras being notable examples — experience brutal violence and extortion at the hands of paramilitaries and gangs who control the flow of drugs bound for Western nations at different stages along its journey, as well as operating a domestic market.
"We are asking people to weigh up the facts and ask themselves whether they can square their use of this drug with the damage it does to others," said Saggers.
Watch the VICE News documentary: Cocaine & Crude (Full Length)
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