Cocaine Use Doubles in Mexico in Six Years

by VR Sreeraman on Oct 18 2009 1:32 PM

Cocaine use doubled in Mexico in the six years to 2008, the health minister said Friday, arguing that tougher border controls on smuggling has pushed more of the drug into the domestic market.

Mexico is a major hub for drug trafficking from South America to the United States and beyond, and suspected drug-related violence has left some 14,000 people dead since late 2006.

Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova blamed the rise in cocaine use, from 1.2 to 2.4 percent among 12 to 65 year olds, on "changing trafficking routes and increased security on the country's northern and southern borders, which increases access to (illegal) substances inside" the country.

However, Mexico's main addiction problem was alcoholism, Cordova said.

Some 4.2 million people, out of a population of around 109 million, were addicted to alcohol, he said.

The figures came from a public survey of more than 50,000 households across the country's 32 states.

Drug violence has increased despite the deployment of more than 50,000 soldiers nationwide since late 2006 in a crackdown on organized crime.