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Colombia’s cheap cocaine attracts western tourists


COLOMBIA is a white powder paradise with an increasing number of western tourists visiting the South American country solely for its cheap cocaine.
Dealers loiter on the dimly-lit nightclub strips waiting to target Aussies and other westerners hungry for the drug.
It’s no secret you can easily purchase lines on the streets of Colombia. But the notorious cocaine trade came under the spotlight again this week after South Australian woman Cassie Sainsbury was arrested in Bogota.
The 22-year-old was found with 5.8kg of cocaine in her luggage, packed inside packages she says she thought were headphones she bought for family and friends back home.
As risky as it is to purchase cocaine in South America, tourists continue to arrive in large numbers with one purpose — try it, despite the dangers.

A sign on a tree in Minca, Colombia warning people drugs support violence. Picture: Supplied

‘IT’S EMBARRASSING’
One Australian woman who spent about six months backpacking around South America told news.com.au cocaine was really easy to get your hands on. She said it was sold for around $7 to $15 a gram, as opposed to $300 in Australia.
“Dealers hang out around popular party hostels and get a lot of business from westerners,” she said.
“I did meet a few Australians who travelled to Colombia for the sole reason of doing lots of coke. It was embarrassing to be around people like that as they gave Australians such a bad name.”
The backpacker said snorting cocaine was almost as common as drinking alcohol because of how cheap and accessible it was.
“Men on the street will be selling little candies, incense or chewing gum and as you walk past them they will whisper ‘cocaine’ at you,” she said.
“They hang out around hostels, city centres and outside of nightclubs. You just buy a pack of gum or something and they will slip it into your hand. It’s really easy and when you get to a new city you can generally find somewhere to buy coke within about 10 minutes.”
Selling cocaine is illegal in Colombia, but the backpacker said police turned a blind eye to it or were paid off to keep quiet.

“There are lots of issues with police corruption in Colombia. There are also issues with cops planting drugs on westerners and asking for bribes so that they won’t go to prison. I’ve heard of them accepting bribes as little as $1 USD,” she said.
‘IT INCREASES OUR CRIME RATE’
Stephanie Hunt, reporter for travel insurance company WorldNomads.com.au, said programs like Netflix series Narcos, based on drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, contributed to the country’s booming drug tourism.
“It’s illegal to sell it. If you are purchasing cocaine in Colombia you are committing a criminal act,” Hunt said.
“The simple reality is if you come to Colombia and ask around for drugs you are immediately putting out signals you’re somebody with money and want to get involved in criminal elements. This means by involving yourself with criminals, you are opening yourself up to be robbed or worse.”
Cocaine became popular in Colombia in the 70s and the country became the world’s largest supplier of cocaine across the world. Escobar’s cartel was raking in $420 million per week.
But WorldNomads.com.au reports locals are strongly against travellers who visit the country to do cocaine.
“It definitely increases our crime rate, for the locals and for foreigners, putting yourself in danger to buy the product,” a local said.
Another man in Colombia said while tourists assumed they were just having fun, using the drug recreationally was offensive to locals because cocaine had caused death and destruction.
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