Chile’s Investigations Police (PDI, in Spanish) dismantled a criminal organization that smuggled cocaine from Tacna, Peru, using specially modified vehicles.
The ring disassembled the vehicles and removed the drugs at a car repair shop in the Chilean city of Arica. Then, they would hide the drugs in countainers from a Peruvian health food company, which were sent by truck to Santiago. The cocaine was later distributed in the Chilean capital’s metropolitan region.
On June 27, after nine months of investigations, the PDI’s Counternarcotics and Organized Crime Brigade led operation Desert Welder to disrupt the criminal group.
Agents raided two residences and the Arica car repair shop. They seized 45 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride, equivalent to 90,760 doses. The police detained one Chilean and two Peruvian citizens, who will remain in custody while the investigation is carried out.
In the first six months of 2020, the PDI seized 11.5 metric tons of drugs (including cannabis sativa, cocaine hydrochloride, and cocaine base paste), a 19 percent increase compared to the same period in 2019, according to information published by news site La Tercera.
In April, amid the health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, there was an 81 percent increase in drugs seized compared to the same month in 2019. During a seizure that the PDI considered “historic,” agents confiscated 2 metric tons of cocaine and 700 kg of cannabis from a criminal network.
“For several months, this organization managed the influx of drugs by sea, which were hidden inside cargo containers and later shipped, mixed with food products, that were bound for Greece,” said Leonardo Torres, national chief of Counternarcotics and Organized Crime, as quoted by La Tercera.
“The operations were not affected, because shipments of cargo by sea are one of the commercial activities that have not been interrupted due to the measures associated with the pandemic,” Torres said.