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Today, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) recognized members of Colombia’s military and law enforcement who have been severely wounded in the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism.

The 15 members of Colombia’s military and law enforcement who were recognized also participated in Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. on Sunday.

“The United States and Colombia have a shared commitment to bringing drug traffickers to justice, stopping the production and flow of deadly drugs, and keeping our communities safe. I commend the courage and bravery of each of the individuals who have sacrificed themselves in the midst of this fight. Their efforts personify the strong partnership between both countries as we continue working together to reduce coca cultivation and cocaine production,” ONDCP Director Jim Carroll said.

“We are so proud to welcome these courageous individuals to Washington, DC for the Marine Corps Marathon. Thanks in large part to their bravery and perseverance, Colombia is a nation transformed. Their visit is a chance for us to thank them and cheer them on. It is also a chance to thank our American friends whose continued support is crucial to Colombia’s future,” Ambassador of Colombia to the United States Francisco Santos said.

In Colombia, the use of landmines has increased in areas around coca plants affecting mostly National Police officers and civilians engaged in manual eradication activity.  A growing number of victims have been severely wounded in the fight against narcotrafficking and terrorism, losing arms and legs.

Military service members represent around 70% of Colombian landmine victims.  Landmine victims increased 300% in 2018 compared to 2017.

In June, ONDCP reported that coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia remains high but is leveling off. Although coca cultivation in Colombia remained at historically high levels in 2018, it was the first year the crop did not increase since 2012.