The Uruguayan government announced this week its plans to use the funds confiscated from drug trafficking to care for individuals suffering from drug addiction, finance resources, and strengthen public policies.
“This is an emergency door for extreme drug-taking situations. The project has already been approved by the JND,” said the National Drug Board Secretary General Diego Olivera, stating that an emergency care center will be added to the Police Hospital in Montevideo with construction costing around US$2 million, courtesy of the nation’s drug cartels.
Olivier said he believes it will reverse the system of abuse between addicts and dealers and said authorities are finalizing the details for construction of the new hospital wing.
“The resources that are extracted from illegal activities are returned to society with services provided by different institutions. This is one of the great virtues of seizing assets from criminal organizations linked to drug trafficking, money laundering, trafficking of people and other activities," Olivier told El Observador.
The official stated the center will be staffed by trained paramedical personnel specializing in narcotics treatment and will be accompanied by “expert toxicologists” and therefore be better able to serve its patients than the traditional public health centers and emergency rooms.
In addition, a portion of the proceeds from narcos will be used to improve many of the 120 state support points where treatment is provided and the residences for people with serious addiction problems, like cocaine.
Since 2010, the country’s seized assets fund has collected US$14 million which has been used in a number of anti-crime initiatives, including construction of the current Attorney General’s Office.
Prosecutor Jorge Diaz described the board’s recent efforts as a preventative measure, which is aimed at "depriving organized crime of economic benefits" and turning the money around to provide "treatment and health" to its victims.
Uruguay has been trying to expand strategies in the area of health and the fight against drug trafficking, selling cannabis directly to consumers since July 19, making it the first in the world to legalize the entire process of marijuana production for recreational use, including its cultivation and sale.
This is implemented as a way to guarantee quality to users and break the hold of organized crime, under a law passed in 2013 that also enables self-cultivation and training cannabis clubs.