Chile’s Investigations Police (PDI, in Spanish) started operations in 2021 attacking transnational criminal organizations and illicit drug production. Among other actions, it prevented the production of several tons of cocaine and destroyed marijuana plantations before the leaves could be harvested for sale.
On January 18, the PDI reported on Twitter the capture of five people and the seizure of 1.5 tons of potassium permanganate, a substance used to produce cocaine hydrochloride. According to the PDI, criminals could have produced up to 12 tons of cocaine with this amount of chemicals.
The operation, carried out in Santiago province, came after several months of investigations, Manuel Guerra, eastern regional prosecutor, said on Twitter. “We are talking about a criminal group of five individuals who bought large amounts of potassium permanganate, more than 8 tons […], which they transferred to the city of Iquique and Alto Hospicio, to then send to Bolivia,” Guerra said.
Guerra said that the criminal group is in custody and faces charges of illicit trafficking of chemical precursors for the production of cocaine.
In another operation, in early January, the PDI found and destroyed 3,605 marijuana plants in the Zapallar district, Valparaíso region, the institution said on Twitter.
The news portal BioBío Chile reported on January 8 that this seizure took place when PDI units found two neighboring camps equipped with irrigation systems consisting of improvised pools, which watered the more than 3,000 plants. Authorities incinerated the marijuana near the camp, under the surveillance of agents of the institution and of the National Forest Corporation, the Chilean newspaper 24Horas.cl reported on January 8.
Although Chile is not known as a cocaine-producing country, the Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2019, published by the United Nations in March 2020, says that Chile is likely one of the main South American countries from which drugs departs bound for Europe. In addition, the Report on Drug Use in the Americas 2019, by the Organization of American States, says that Chile may have the highest rate of marijuana use in South America.