Cocaine paste

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Coca paste (paco, basuco, oxi) is a crude extract of the coca leaf which contains 40% to 91% cocaine freebase along with companion coca alkaloids and varying quantities of benzoic acid, methanol, and kerosene. In South America, coca paste, also known as cocaine base and, therefore, often confused with cocaine sulfate in North America, is relatively inexpensive and is widely used by low-income populations. The coca paste is smoked in tobacco or cannabis cigarettes and use has become widespread in several Latin American countries. Traditionally, coca paste has been relatively abundant in South American countries such as Colombia where it is processed into cocaine hydrochloride ("street cocaine") for distribution to the rest of the world.[1] The caustic reactions associated with the local application of coca paste prevents its use by oral, intranasal, mucosal, intramuscular, intravenous or subcutaneous routes. Coca paste can only be smoked when combined with a combustible material such as tobacco or cannabis.[2]


Coca paste use began in Bolivia and Peru in the early 1970s, first in the capital cities and then in other towns and rural areas. In a few years its use had spread to Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and some Mexican cities near the border with the United States.[2]

In Argentina, cocaine paste was sold for about 30 cents per dose in 2006, enough for a powerful two-minute high.[3] However, its price has increased because of higher demand, among other reasons.[4]

Preparation and effects[edit]

Crude cocaine preparation intermediates are marketed as cheaper alternatives to pure cocaine to local markets while the more expensive end product is exported to United States and European markets. Freebase cocaine paste preparations can be smoked. The psychological and physiological effects of the paco are quite severe.[5][6] Media usually report that it is extremely toxic and addictive.[7][8][9] 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 stand in the way of rehabilitation programs.[10]

Basuco, Colombia[edit]

Basuco is the term used for cocaine paste in Colombia. Basuco is derived from the Spanish word for trash (basura), literally meaning "dirty trash" (of cocaine), referring to the paste left at the bottom of a barrel after cocaine production. Basuco is mostly smoked, either rolled like a cigarette with tobacco or cannabis, or more commonly from selfmade pipes. These are often improvised from PVC so users will inhale toxic plastic components. Basuco is very addictive and said to be "more potent than the crack cocaine found across European and American cities". Basuco users may take other psychoactive agents, like industrial alcohol and MDMA to manage the drug effects, the high and the paranoia.[11]

Per the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Colombia there were 4,644 basuco users in Bogotá alone; the drug's illicitness and accompanying homelessness prohibit an accurate count.[11]

Since September 2012, a "Mobile Centre for Attention to Drug Addicts" (CAMAD) has been providing basic human services with an interdisciplinary team moving by bus in Bogota's worst affected neighbourhoods and working in a prison. Three hospitals participate with walk-in treatment, amongst them the public Hospital Centro Oriente.[11] Gustavo Petro, the former Mayor of Bogotá and current President of Colombia, established CAMAD before finishing his second term as mayor in October 2015, and the future of the program is uncertain. Since CAMAD cannot offer services such as HIV testing, needle exchange, or safe injection sites, its "current levels of progress are not comparable with those of countries that have invested greater resources in the implementation of such schemes", per UNODOC. CAMAD has been criticised by a Colombian non-governmental organisation called "Technical Social Action" (ATS) for not doing enough, and also by "right-leaning politicians and the public for negotiating terms with the criminal gangs that control [certain] areas".[11]

Paco in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay[edit]

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 Brazil, Uruguay and Chile. Between 2001 and 2005, the use of paco in Argentina increased by 200%, with more than 150,000 young people taking it regularly.[8][12]

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.[7] The use underscores a significant shift in both Argentina and its larger neighbour Brazil, both of which in just a few years have become sizable cocaine consumers. Brazil now[when?] ranks as the second largest total consumer of cocaine in the world after the United States, per the United States Department of State.[citation needed]

Slang terms[edit]


  • Paco
  • Basoco
  • Pico
  • Base
  • Tubo
  • Pasta Base


  • Angustia (anguish)
  • Cocaína de los pobres (poor man's cocaine)
  • Pasta (Paste)
  • Pasta Base (Base Paste)
  • Palo Rosa (Mixed with heroin or opium)
  • Mono (Monkey, also withdrawal symptom. Mixed with tobacco)
  • Marciano (Martian. Mixed with marijuana)


  • Pasta di coca
  • Base
  • Boccia
  • Cruda


Oxi (abbr. from Portuguese oxidado) is a stimulant drug based on cocaine paste originally developed in the Brazilian Amazon forest region.[13] It is reportedly a mixture of cocaine paste, gasoline, kerosene and quicklime (calcium oxide).[14] 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.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ronald K. Siegel (1985), "New Patterns of Cocaine Use: Changing Doses and Routes", in Nicholas J. Kozel; Edgar H. Adams (eds.), Cocaine Use in America: Epidemiologic and Clinical Perspectives (PDF), NIDA Research Monograph, vol. 61, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, pp. 204–222, archived from the original (PDF) on 9 October 2016, retrieved 9 April 2016
  2. ^ a b A. Arif, ed. (1987), Adverse health consequences of cocaine abuse (PDF), World Health Organization
  3. ^ Hearn, Kelly (5 April 2006). "A new scourge sweeps through Argentine ghettos: 'paco'". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 10 December 2020. Paco is cheap. It usually goes for about 30 cents a dose, enough for a powerful two-minute high.
  4. ^ "El nuevo precio del paco". (in Spanish). 31 October 2007. Archived from the original on 2 November 2007.
  5. ^ Jeri, FR (1984). "Coca-paste smoking in some Latin American countries: a severe and unabated form of addiction". Bulletin on Narcotics. 36 (2).
  6. ^ Phillips, Katharine; Adriana Luk; Gursharan S. Soor; Jonathan R. Abraham; Shaun Leong; Dr Jagdish Butany (June 2009). "Cocaine Cardiotoxicity". American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs. 9 (3): 177–196. doi:10.1007/bf03256574. PMID 19463023. S2CID 70385136.
  7. ^ a b Mcdonnell, Patrick J. (25 May 2007). "Argentina confronts plague named Paco". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  8. ^ a b Christine Legrand (26 March 2009). "En Argentine, des mères se mobilisent contre le "paco", la drogue des pauvres – Amériques". Le Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  9. ^ Navai, Ramita (28 April 2008). "Cocaine's lethal leftovers take violent grip on slum children". The Times. London. Retrieved 5 April 2009. (registration required)
  10. ^ "DRUGS-ARGENTINA: 'Pasta Base' Destructive but Not Invincible". 9 December 2006. Archived from the original on 13 February 2009. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  11. ^ a b c d Joe Parkin Daniels (12 September 2015). "Bogotá tackles basuco addiction". Lancet. 386 (9998): 1027–1028. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)00189-0. PMID 26382982. S2CID 5224411. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  12. ^ "Drugs scourge takes hold in Argentina". BBC News. 29 August 2007. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  13. ^ Oxi: New Drug Terrifies Brazil | The Rio Times I Brazil News. (2011-04-26). Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  14. ^ Phillips, Tom (30 May 2011). "Oxi: Twice as powerful as crack cocaine at just a fraction of the price". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  15. ^ Inside Brazil's toxic drug culture – Features. Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2011-10-10.

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