Cocaine paste, also known as coca paste, paco, pasta base or basuco in South America, short for pasta de cocaína (cocaine paste) or pasta base de cocaína (PBC, cocaine base paste), is a collective name given to several different cocaine products. Cocaine paste includes crude intermediate stages of the cocaine preparation process and their freebase forms as well as "crack cocaine" prepared from pure cocaine hydrochloride. Crude Cocaine was first precipitated by Peruvian pharmacist Alfredo Bignon in 1885. He would present his findings at the Academia Libre de Medicina de Lima, where a distinguished panel of Peruvian doctors and chemists would judge his innovation in a ten-page official report. Using simple precipitation methods and local ingredients — fresh-grown Andean coca leaf, kerosene, soda ash — he was able to produce a chemically active “crude” cocaine in “an easy and economic preparation in the same place as coca cultivation”: at home in Peru.
Preparation and effects
Crude cocaine preparation intermediates are marketed as cheaper alternatives to pure cocaine to local markets while the more expensive end product is exported to US and European markets. Freebase cocaine paste preparations can be smoked. The psychological and physiological effects of the paco are unclear. Media usually report that it is extremely toxic and addictive although independent studies could not confirm it. According to a study by Intercambios, media appear to exaggerate the effects of paco. These stereotypes create a sense that nothing can be done to help a paco addict and thus stands in the way of rehabilitation programs.
Paco in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay
Cocaine paste is very popular through several South American countries including Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay and is referred to as paco or pasta base (in Uruguay and Chile). In 2007, crackdowns in Peru and Bolivia forced traffickers to move to Argentina to produce cocaine which, according to the Los Angeles Times, is ideal for its "advanced chemical industry, [its] porous border with Bolivia and a notoriously corrupt police force." Eventually, this prompted traffickers to sell their byproduct to locals. The use underscores a significant shift in both Argentina and its larger neighbour Brazil, which in just a few years have become sizable cocaine consumers. Brazil now ranks as the second largest total consumer of cocaine in the world after the United States, per the United States Department of State.
In Argentina, cocaine paste used to go for about 30 cents (in USD) a dose, enough for a powerful two-minute high. However, lately, its price has gone up as a result of a higher demand, among other causes.
Between 2001 and 2005, the use of paco in Argentina increased by 200%, with more than 150,000 young people taking it regularly. A report by the Transnational Institute states that it is difficult to know the exact nature of this substance and its effects and that they could "neither confirm nor discount the various hypotheses offered in those cities". The drug is also the most used among the general population in Brazil, according to a poll. Of those who admitted they were drug users, 47 per cent took paco, with marijuana, cocaine and substances such as glue lagging far behind.
- Pasta Base
- Angustia (anguish)
- Cocaina de los pobres (poor man's cocaine)
- Pasta (Paste)
- Pasta Base (Base Paste)
- Palo Rosa (Mixed with heroin or opium)
- Mono (Monkey. Mixed with tobacco)
- Marciano (Martian. Mixed with marijuana)
- Miss White
- Masa Farina
Óxi (abbr. from Portuguese oxidado) is a stimulant drug based on cocaine paste originally developed in the Brazilian Amazon forest region. It is reportedly a mixture of cocaine paste, petrol, kerosene and quicklime (calcium oxide). This description may be a garbled account of an acid-base extraction procedure. Its popularity has soared in the last decade, in part due to its strongly addictive effect and lower price than other common drugs. While in the 1980s it could be found mainly in the Amazon region, the police in major Brazilian cities have recently reported significant drug arrests. Possible health effects are likely to be similar to normal cocaine.
- "Paco Under Scrutiny: The cocaine base paste market in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.". Drugs and Conflict (Amsterdam: Transnational Institute) 14. April 2006. ISSN 1871-3408.
- Gootenburg, Paul (2008). Andean Cocaine: The Making of a Global Drug. United States: The University of North Carolina Press. p. 1. ISBN 0807859052.
- Mcdonnell, Patrick J. (2007-05-25). "Argentina confronts plague named Paco – Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2009-04-05.
- Christine Legrand. "En Argentine, des mères se mobilisent contre le "paco", la drogue des pauvres – Amériques". Le Monde.fr. Retrieved 2009-04-05.
- Navai, Ramita (2008-04-28). "Cocaine's lethal leftovers take violent grip on slum children". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2009-04-05. (registration required)
- "DRUGS-ARGENTINA: 'Pasta Base' Destructive but Not Invincible". Ipsnews.net. 2006-12-09. Retrieved 2009-04-05.
- "Paco is cheap. It usually goes for about 30 cents a dose, enough for a powerful two-minute high." 
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- "Drugs scourge takes hold in Argentina". BBC News. 2007-08-29. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
- Oxi: New Drug Terrifies Brazil | The Rio Times I Brazil News. Riotimesonline.com (2011-04-26). Retrieved on 2011-10-10.
- Phillips, Tom (May 30, 2011). "Oxi: Twice as powerful as crack cocaine at just a fraction of the price". The Guardian. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
- Inside Brazil's toxic drug culture – Features. Al Jazeera English. Retrieved on 2011-10-10.
- Paco Under Scrutiny: The cocaine base paste market in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil
- A new scourge sweeps through Argentine ghettos: 'paco' Christian Science Monitor
- Lost in an abyss of Drugs, and entangled by poverty New York Times, July 30, 2009
- The 10p cocaine by-product turning Argentina's slum children into the living dead The Observer, February 21, 2010