The New King of Coke
Peru produced 60 percent of the world's cocaine in 1992, before Colombia overtook it as the global kingpin of coke. Now, Peru has reemerged as the international leader in cocaine production, cultivating an estimated 150,000 acres of the drug a year. We went to the country to learn more, embedding with the Peruvian special forces, speaking with local coca farmers, and linking up with cartel members who showed us how to make cocaine. We discovered that despite the government's response—and a hefty amount of foreign aid devoted to combatting cocaine production—Peruvian coke is being consumed around the world like never before, and the Andean nation runs the risk of becoming the world's next great narco-state. Wilder Núñez, a local coca farmer, told us, "It's a lie when the government says the coca will disappear. Coca will never be forgotten."
Watch The New King of Coke on VICENews.com.
Training Female Bodyguards
China's millionaire population is surging at record speeds. The country now has the second-highest number of millionaires in the world, right behind the United States. Since private security firms were legalized in 2010, many of the elite have taken to hiring bodyguards. Women are in particularly high demand because they are less conspicuous than their male counterparts; they can blend in by playing the roles of secretaries and nannies. We flew to Beijing to spend time with female students as they spent grueling hours training at the Yunhai Elite Security academy. "Female bodyguards are more discreet and can respond to threats quickly without people noticing," explains Xin Yang, president at the Yunhai school and a former Chinese military martial arts instructor.
See Femme Fatales and watch the documentary, part of our VICE Reports series, coming soon.
Illegal Songbird Trapping
We recently traveled to Cyprus to learn more about why the largest massacre of songbirds in the world is happening on British sovereign territory. Dhekelia, one of two areas on the island retained by the British once Cyprus gained independence, is host to industrial-scale bird trapping. Local authorities were forced to bring the nation in line with European laws once Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, but criminals seeking to profit from the illegal trade continue to supply the country's restaurants. We met locals who were dismayed that their tradition of trapping birds has been outlawed, and we joined up with a team of European activists who disrupt the poachers' traps at night.
Watch The Politics of Food: Illegal Songbird Trapping on Munchies.VICE.com.
Beaver Slayers of Patagonia
In 1946, importing 25 pairs of beavers from Canada to Chile in order to foster a fur trade in an economically lackluster territory of Patagonia seemed like a smart idea. But no one would have imagined these incisor-toothed vermin would one day lay waste to Patagonia's forests. Today there are roughly 100,000 beavers in the region, and their presence has allegedly led to the most transformative destruction of its ecosystem since the last ice age. We traveled to the southernmost tip of Chile to meet the beaver hunters in charge of crudely restoring order here. According to Rodrigo Molina, a veterinarian and head of the invasive wildlife program for the Chilean government, the beavers are "trying to colonize the continent."
Watch Beaver Slayers of Patagonia on Motherboard.VICE.com.
Changa Tuki of Caracas
Born in the slums of Caracas, Changa Tuki is a distinct electronic dance-music scene that represents a subculture of artists, musicians, and dancers whose style and dress reflect the cultural happenings of the Venezuelan barrios. In a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world, Changa Tuki is seen by some as just another community of thugs and criminals. We flew to Caracas and spent time with dancers involved in the Changa Tuki subculture. Elberth "El Maestro," one of the scene's leaders, told us, "What we do is culture. I have 38 students who I rescued from a street corner who had nothing to do. They were up to no good. Now they dance with other local troops."
Watch Changa Tuki of Caracas on Thump.VICE.com.