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Chilean Security Forces Seize 4 Tons of Drugs in 2 Operations

Chilean Security Forces Seize 4 Tons of Drugs in 2 Operations

By Guillermo Saavedra/Diálogo
May 13, 2021

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The Chilean Navy and Chile’s Investigations Police (PDI, in Spanish) dealt a blow to narcotrafficking in two operations carried out in March, in the north of the country, seizing more than 4 tons of drugs, including cocaine, cocaine base paste, and marijuana.

On the early morning of March 28, two units of the Navy’s Fourth Naval Zone were monitoring the area west of Pisagua, a town in the Tarapacá region, when they detected suspicious movements by a Peruvian-flagged fishing vessel, the Navy said in a statement. Agents of the Fourth Naval Zone’s Immediate Response Group intercepted the boat with five crew members on board, where they found more than 788 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride, cocaine base paste, and marijuana.

Authorities of the Chilean Ministry of the Interior and Public Security and the PDI look at the drug packages seized during Operation The Liberators, in mid-March 2021. (Photo: Chile’s Investigations Police)

According to the Navy, this was the largest drug seizure carried out entirely by the naval institution in the last 20 years.

“We are happy because we managed to deal a hard blow to narcotrafficking […]. At the same time, we are concerned and busy, because we see how drug trafficking by sea has been increasing progressively,” said Chilean Navy Rear Admiral René Rojas, commander in chief of the Fourth Naval Zone.

In mid-March, Chilean Minister of the Interior and Public Security Rodrigo Delgado revealed the outcome of an investigation that the PDI carried out in the Antofagasta region, which resulted in the seizure of more than 3.2 tons of cocaine, cocaine base paste, and marijuana, as well as the dismantling of a criminal group that moved drugs from Bolivia. Authorities captured six gang members, who transferred the drugs from Bolivia in high-tonnage vehicles, and seized 36 properties and vehicles valued at more than $300 million, the Chilean newspaper La Tercera reported.

The blow, under Operation The Liberators (Operación Los Libertadores), occurred after more than a year of investigations led by the Arica PDI’s Counternarcotics and Organized Crime Brigade (Brianco, in Spanish), in coordination with the Bolivian Special Force to Fight Drug Trafficking, the PDI said in a statement.

“This criminal gang was notable for being very well-organized in their work, which is why the investigation took a year; […] at the same time, it was very dangerous, and this is evident because, when they were dismantled, we discovered that some members wanted to get rid of one of their peers,” Commissioner Juan Figueroa, head of Arica’s Brianco, told Diálogo.

According to the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security, the PDI seized more than 23 tons of drugs in 2020.