Authorities in Bolivia say they have eradicated about 545 hectares (1,350 acres) of coca plants found in the South American country's biggest national park.

Government official Felipe Caceres says an anti-drug team destroyed the illegal plants in the Carrasco National Park in central Bolivia. He said Monday that growers protested the operation but eradication workers finished the mission.

Coca leaves are the basis for cocaine, but they also are a sacred plant among Andes natives. They have been used as a mild stimulant for centuries, and Bolivia allows limited growing of coca for traditional uses.

The United Nations lists the country as the world's No. 3 coca producer behind Colombia and neighboring Peru with 120 square miles (31,000 hectares) under cultivation.