New reports have found that Paraguaya is struggling to address a spike in drug production and crime.
According to a report by the Washington Post published Thursday, Paraguay’s National Anti-Drug Secretariat, SENAD, an increasing number of farmers are turning to marijuana as a more lucrative alternative to legal crops.
Farmers have been enticed by the "high-risk, high-reward cash crop," the report said, which has a higher yield than soybeans.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found that Paraguay is now the fourth-largest producer of marijuana in the world, after Mexico, the United States and Nigeria.
In this year alone, police have confiscated 700 metric tons of marijuana — more double what was seized in 2016.
Paraguayan authorities predict that by the end of the year, they will have destroyed over 2,400 hectares of the marijuana plantation, the highest figure seen in a decade, Insight Crime reports.
Only 1 percent of marijuana crops stay in Paraguay, with the rest going to meet the demand of the international black market.
The spike in drug production comes as Paraguay struggles with an escalating crime rate — particularly money laundering. According to the report by the Ala Index of the Basel Institute, drug trafficking, smuggling and piracy are on the rise and must be better controlled by the government.
The report found that Paraguay is one of 16 countries with the worst crime prevention system.
Paraguayan officials rejected the report, arguing the information was outdated and damaged their national image.
Nations around the world have struggled to control the rising opioid epidemic with Uruguay, Portugal, and regions of the United States as well as Holland legalizing the drug in order to curb the demand.