Colombian security forces have conducted a huge operation to destroy more than 100 cocaine laboratories that could produce about 100 tonnes of the drug annually, in its south eastern jungle region, the country's anti-narcotics chief said on Tuesday, 2 August. The crackdown is part of a new government strategy to stem the production of the drug as well as the cultivation of coca, from which cocaine is made.

Security forces carried out the operation over five days.

Anti-narcotics police director General Jose Angel Mendoza, said in Guaviare province forests, "This is a structural blow to the finances of drug trafficking." Police commandos burnt down the laboratories, he added.

Both leftist rebels and crime gangs are part of the drug trade and impose taxes on coca growers, run production labs and collaborate with Mexican cartels to smuggle the drug out of the country. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) rebels, have, however, denied their involvement in the drug trade.

In May, Colombian police said they confiscated their biggest domestic haul of illegal drugs — about eight tonnes of cocaine from the Usuga clan, the country's main organised crime ring.

Defence minister Luis Carlos Villegas, said during the time that almost 1.5 tonnes of cocaine was "ready to go out to the export market."

According to United Nations data, cultivation of coca was up by 39% in Colombia in 2015. In the same year, security forces seized 253 tonnes of the narcotic in 2015, which was 71% up from the previous year.

Colombian forces
A Colombian anti-narcotics policeman stands guard after burning a cocaine lab, which police said belongs to criminal gangs, in a rural area of Calamar in Guaviare state, Colombia, 2 August 2016REUTERS/John Vizcaino