In mid-September, the Colombian Navy dealt a new blow to narcotrafficking during an operation conducted in Cauca department, on the Pacific coast of Colombia. Three labs used to process coca base paste, which belonged to dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, were found and destroyed, the Navy said in a press release.
Guided by naval intelligence, troops of the 42nd Marine Riverine Battalion, the 2nd Counternarcotics Battalion, and the 7th Air Command deployed in a hard-to-reach jungle area, where they found three illegal facilities capable of accommodating about 20 people, the Navy said.
On site, units found two seedbeds with 60,000 coca plants, 5,640 liters of coca base paste in process, 1,125 kilograms of macerated coca leaves, 9,728.5 liters of gasoline, 200 kg of solid chemical precursors, and several weapons. Service members also found three industrial leaf choppers, three presses, four motor pumps, and an industrial stove, among other tools used to produce the drug, and a fiberglass boat, the Navy reported in the statement.
Colombian Marine Corps Colonel Wisner Paz Palomeque, 2nd Marine Brigade commander, told Diálogo that the three labs were capable of producing 2,000 to 3,000 kg of coca base paste monthly.
“The [criminal] groups Structure 6 and Structure 30 are the owners of that drug; they own those manufacturing sites and labs that we’re destroying,” Col. Paz said.
At the same time, near the mouth of the Bubey River, in Cauca department, the Navy made another seizure. “In one of the controls carried out by Battalion 42, upon inspecting one of the vessels that was crossing the river, that substance [cocaine hydrochloride] was seized,” Col. Paz said. “The drug was bound for one of their clandestine manufacturing sites; we are using intelligence to look for the exact place to be able to destroy that lab.”
The vessel, with two crew members on board, carried 20 packages of cocaine, the Navy said. “On several occasions, we’ve seized boats carrying several kilograms, 300, 150 of coca base paste,” Col. Paz said.
According to the Pacific Naval Force, in operations carried out along the Pacific coast of Colombia from January 1 to September 29, the Navy destroyed 67 labs; seized 114,759 kg of cocaine, 33,020 kg of marijuana, and 269 long-barreled guns and handguns; and captured 138 people for narcotrafficking.