Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Production of coca, the plant used to make cocaine, rose to its highest level ever in 2017, despite billions of dollars spent by the U.S. government to eradicate it, the United Nations Office on Drug Control said.
Production last year reached 171,000 hectares -- a 17 percent increase from 2016, the study found. Today, coca crops are producing 33 percent more than in 2012.
Eighty percent of coca is produced in the same area it was 10 years ago, the study said.
Colombian Justice Minister Gloria María Borrero Restrepo called the data "really very worrying."
The U.S. government implemented Plan Colombia in 2000 to reduce coca production in the country through eradication efforts. More than $10 billion has been spent on the effort, but few positive results have been seen.
Between 2000 and 2006, the amount of cocaine sent from Colombia to the United States increased, although heroin production was cut by 50 percent, Foreign Policy reported.
According to a White House report in March, cocaine from Colombia decreased by about 50 percent from 2007 to 2012 -- but has surged since, reaching pre-2006 levels by 2015 and increasing by about 60 percent afterward.