When you reach into the refrigerator for a Coca-Cola, do you ever wonder where it got its name? You might be surprised to find out! When coke was created 120 years ago, it contained cocaine (Bayer 27). At the time scientists did not realize that cocaine was addictive and dangerous. Scientists today know that cocaine is among the strongest stimulants known, and trying the drug even one time can cause heart attack, stroke, and even death. "Even the most in shape athlete could die from one use (Bayer 26)."
The history of coca leaves began hundreds of years ago in South America. The Indians of Peru and Bolivia "chewed" coca leaves so that they could work hard in high altitudes and need little food. It was not until the late 1700's that the coca plant was brought to Europe, and cocaine was not actually created until 1855 when a German chemist named Albert Niemann extracted a compound from coca leaves and named it cocaine. It was not long after cocaine was discovered that it became a common household item (Woods 32).
In the 19th century in The United States, cocaine was included in many different over the counter medicines and tonics (Woods 33). Also a wine named "Vin Mariani," which contained cocaine as one of its ingredients, was widely marketed. Among the famous people to endorse the wine were Pope Leo III, author Jules Vern, and inventor Thomas Edison (Woods 33).
One of the first doctors to prescribe cocaine to his patients was Sigmund Freud. Freud thought that cocaine could be used to cure opium addiction and alcoholism. In reality, though, he was only substituting one addiction for another. Freud wrote a paper on the affects cocaine had on himself. "He found that the only really safe and proper medical use was as a painkiller (Woods 33)."
Most of the coca plants in the world are grown in Peru and Bolivia by Indians that have learned to make coca paste (when coca leaves are mixed with kerosene) from the plant (McFarland 31). The paste that is made is then shipped to Columbia where it is made into a "powdered substance". After the cocaine is made into powder it is shipped to the United States and other parts world (McFarland 32).
"Drug families" in Columbia control most of the cocaine trafficking. They use special planes and boats to carry cocaine from Columbia to Caribbean Islands and southern Florida. They send some on land, by truck through Mexico into the United States (McFarland 32).
Most of the cocaine brought into the U.S. goes through Los Angelas, Houston, New York, and Miami ("Cocaine Use" 3). From these locations "trafficking gangs" connect with "street gangs" to distribute most of the cocaine. "Gangs including the Crips, Bloods, and Dominican, Cuban, Haitian, Mexican, and Puerto Rican groups control most of the sales." Cocaine is only about percent 80 pure when it reaches the gangs, and only 60 percent pure when it hits the street. This is because gangs "cut' it with other...