Ecuador Seizes 3.6 Tons of Smuggled Cocaine

By Dialogo
March 02, 2012

A shipment of cocaine seized by the Ecuadorean police on February 26 contained 3.6 tons of the drug, and was headed for Belgium, authorities announced on February 28.

The packages of drugs were hidden in cardboard boxes of yuca, under sheets of lead, and were found in two containers in the maritime port of Guayaquil (280 km southwest of Quito), according to the report submitted by the police and Interior Minister José Serrano.

A total of 3,697.822 kg of cocaine hydrochloride was seized in Guayaquil, according to the head of the Fourth Police District, Héctor Machado, who added that the shipment was headed for Belgium.

One suspect was arrested in the course of the operation, named “Fierce Winter,” while an agricultural company allegedly linked to the containers is under investigation.

“Steps have been taken to impose the respective prohibitions on disposal of property and departure from the country on the firm’s representatives,” according to the Minister, who reported on the seizure on February 26, without providing further details.

Serrano took the opportunity to launch a program of rewards for information leading to drug seizures. “We’re establishing rewards that will go from 5,000 to 20,000 dollars,” he indicated.

The contraband seized in Guayaquil adds to another 2.3 tons of cocaine seized in Ecuador so far in 2012, according to the police. Two submersibles used to transport drugs were also discovered in those operations.

In the last two weeks, government forces seized another two tons of marijuana during military patrols in the region of the Colombian border (north) and when searching a residence in the Andean city of Cayambe (also in the north), where a Colombian citizen was arrested.

Ecuador seized around 26 tons of drugs during 2011, compared to 18 tons in 2010, and a record of 68 tons in 2009 (64 of them cocaine), according to the police.