Washington, DC— Today, Representative Jim Himes (CT-04) returned from a visit to the Republic of Colombia and Panama where he met with government officials and United States support staff working to end the drug trade and associated violence in South and Central America as well as the United States.

In 2018, more than 2,000 tons of cocaine came out of Colombia, which accounts for more than 70% of the world supply. It’s estimated that the number of cocaine users in the United States has risen by 40% between 2014 and 2017, driving demand for the drug. During the same period, deaths from cocaine increased 160%.  In Bridgeport, Connecticut, a kilogram of cocaine has a street value of between $27,500 and $34,000.

Himes also visited the Venezuelan border with Colombia.  Instability in Venezuela has helped contribute to the strength of the drug market and cartels as well as ease the flow of drugs into Mexico and, subsequently, the United States.

“The growth in cocaine use in the US coupled with robust production in Colombia is very concerning,” said Himes.  “Our partners in both Panama and Colombia are managing very successful interdictions, and we need to support those efforts. It’s not just cocaine coming into the US through shipping containers and fast boats; it’s also Fentanyl, which is deadly on its own and sometimes cut into cocaine. The drug pipeline from Colombia into the US and, eventually, Connecticut, touches on many of the major issues our country is facing today – border security, the opioid epidemic, and national security – and we must dedicate the necessary resources to help combat it while reducing demand at home.”