The most important smuggling route into the US is handled by Mexican cartels. They typically use either small aeroplanes or speedboats to transfer the cocaine through Central America.

Different routes lead the cocaine to Europe. The most important one is by container ship, hidden among legal goods. A different route leads by air or sea to Western Africa (e.g. Guinea Bissau) and then onwards to Europe.

375 kg of coca leaves cost between 600 and 900 euros in Peru. Per ha between 1500 and 2000 kg are harvested per year. Most farmers own 1-2 ha.


The main ingredient for cocaine are the leafs of the coca bush. Farmers receive approximately 3 Dollar per kilogram. Using several chemicals, approximately 100 kilograms of coca leafs are transformed into 1 kilogram of coca paste, worth around 720 USD. This is done in hidden, improvised labs in the jungle.

In a chemical conversion process, this results in approx. 2.5 kg of cocaine paste (pasta básica) worth 1700 euros.

And again in a second chemical process 1 kg of pure cocaine worth 2100,- Euro.

In Columbia, Bolivia, Argentinia and Brazil, sometimes in Peru, the coca paste is further processed and dried into cocain. With the help of further chemicals and heat, this happens in so-called "cocaine kitchens", usually located in backyards in the outskirts of cities.


In the US the pure cocaine is diluted with various substances. In the less harmful cases this is done with baking powder or milk powder. Sometimes, vermicide or the pain killer Lidocain are being used. This way the amount of cocaine is doubled or tripled.


The big profit is made on the journey. You also have to consider that cocaine is stretched with all kinds of substances, from harmless baking powder or fructose to toxic arsenic or quinine. The most popular drugs among dealers are benzocaine and lidocaine or amphetamines: