A farmer admires his coca seedlings. Photo by Thomas Grisaffi.Among the many myths about the coronavirus, one of the strangest circulated on Twitter is the belief that snorting cocaine could ward off the illness. But unfortunately for the would-be consumer, as travel has ground to a halt and border controls have tightened, supplies of illicit drugs have dropped.

The coronavirus has de-stabilized the delicate balance in the Andes that the mercurial drug trade relies on. The ramifications reverberate all along cocaine’s supply chain down to the 237,000 families in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia who depend on growing coca leaf. All three countries are currently under lockdown because of COVID-19, enforced by military and police forces. As trafficking routes shrink, in parts of Peru and Bolivia, the price of coca leaf has slumped to one third, or even one sixth, of its previous levels.

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CORONA HITS THE COCAINE SUPPLY CHAIN, By Linda Farthing and Thomas Grisaffi