Have placed this in the News forum as it is of general interest and could have gone in either Coca or Cocaine forums. The article is from The Guardian (UK):
First coca crop found in Brazilian rainforest
Drug cartels have moved into Brazil's Amazon and are producing cocaine deep in the rainforest, opening a new frontier in South America's narcotics trade.
Authorities discovered the first known coca plantations in Brazil's jungle at the weekend after satellite images revealed clearings that turned out to be about 2 hectares (5 acres) of coca plantations.
Army units in helicopters and small boats also discovered a laboratory to refine cocaine at the site, about 80 miles south of the border town Tabatinga, along the banks of the Javari river, which runs along Brazil's western border with Peru.
"It is an unprecedented fact and it surprised us," Colonel Antonio Filho told Brazilian journalists who visited the area.
Coca is traditionally grown in the Andean highlands of Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, prompting speculation that the cartels had genetically modified the leaf for humid jungle conditions.
"We believe they are using a transgenic or an adaptation of the leaf used in the Andean region," Filho said. "They are probably trying to find new locations to grow this, so we need to stay alert. If we don't do anything it might even become a source of deforestation."
The producers reportedly tried to conceal the coca, which is the raw ingredient for cocaine, with pineapple and manioc. The crop, almost ready for harvesting, was destroyed. There were no arrests.
The discovery worried the US Drug Enforcement Agency. "It's something law enforcement is going to have be vigilant on ... so [Brazil] doesn't become a major producer," a spokesman told the Associated Press. The vast, remote rainforest offered shelter and impunity, he said. "Drug traffickers and organisation are always moving to new areas. The Colombians are phenomenal in that respect."
Some 230 indigenous communities, home to 54,000 Indians of different ethnicities, have been touched by cocaine, Davi Felix Cecilio, the region's indigenous foundation administrator, said. "The invasion from neighbouring countries, Colombians and Peruvians, is constant." Indians on the Brazilian side were being used as "mules", he said.
An offensive by Colombia's US-backed forces has eradicated many plantations and pushed cartels and guerrillas, who double as traffickers, towards border areas. In an interview with the Guardian last year a senior member of Brazil's air force, Colonel José Hugo Volkmer, said the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) were making incursions into Brazil. He said it was possible that Ingrid Betancourt, Farc's highest profile hostage, had been in captivity on the Brazilian side of the border.
Brazil is a transit point for Colombian and Peruvian cocaine bound for Europe and the US but local authorities had long denied that coca plants or cocaine itself were produced in their country. But signs are growing that drug production has started to migrate across the border.
Last August police in Rio closed down what they called the first cocaine refinery found in Brazilian territory. They said the laboratory, in the Rio shantytown of Rocinha, produced between 250kg (about 550lb) and 500kg of cocaine a month.
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