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New anti-drug weapons: bras and thongs

Models display lingerie produced by workers in Colombia's impoverished Cauca province.
Models display lingerie produced by workers in Colombia's impoverished Cauca province.

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BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) -- They have tried aerial assaults and stiff jail sentences. Now Colombian officials have new and unlikely weapons to combat the cocaine trade: push-up bras and thongs.

Some 900 peasant women in Colombia are set to make racy lingerie and sell it to French supermarket chain Carrefour under a U.N.-backed program aimed at encouraging impoverished farmers and their families to stop growing drug crops.

"We thought it was a very original idea. These are regions where there are drug crops and people need legal jobs," said Thierry Rostan of the U.N. Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention in Bogota.

Despite a fierce U.S.-backed campaign to spray drug crops with herbicide and impose longer jail terms, Colombia remains the world's top producer of cocaine. Poor farmers, many of them coffee growers gone broke, have turned to drug crops to make a living.

The lingerie, which includes bras and lacy panties, will be made at clothing and shoe plants in the southern coffee-rich province of Cauca, which has seen a spike of cocaine crops due to the collapse of world coffee prices.

Colombia's National Federation of Coffee Growers, which helped build the plants some 30 years ago to assist coffee growers, is participating in the lingerie project along with the French Embassy in Bogota.

Fernando Pomez, general manager of the factories, said he hoped the Carrefour deal, finalized last week, would generate up to $141,000 in sales next year.

The lingerie label, named Tex, will be sold at Carrefour's 12 stores in Colombia. Pomez said the items may be exported later.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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