Above: COLOMBIA Huila Department — Jun 1995 — Anti-narcotics unit policeman with M-60 machine gun secures a heroin poppy field before it is sprayed with defoliant — Picture © Jonathan Mitchell/alamy.com
The image above was shot while on assignment for The Christian Science Monitor and the Gemini News Service in 1995 in Huila Department in the Andes of Colombia. It was one of the few images of mine that have made the front page (of the Monitor) and is probably the best war photo in my collection. Interestingly, this is not an image of a soldier, but an anti-narcotics unit police officer! Colombia’s drug war has been fought almost as long as it’s civil war and is intrinsically linked to the finance of the conflict on both sides. Heroin production never really took off in Colombia, the preferred crop being coca for cocaine. Nevertheless, this image was widely used (despite SIPA Press in New York managing to loose the initial edit!) and for me, visually sums up the situation in Colombia at the time.