Ecuador Seizes 4.5 Tons of Cocaine, Receives US Donation
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo May 19, 2021
During a combined operation between the Ecuadorian Navy and a P3C aircraft from U.S. Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-South), Ecuadorian Coast Guard agents found 950 kilograms of cocaine inside 813 packages floating 130 nautical miles (240 kilometers) off the coast of Manabí province, the Navy said on Twitter, April 12, 2021. The cocaine was bound for Europe, said the Ecuadorian National Police (PNE, in Spanish).
During other operations, anti-drug agents prevented the shipment of 1,846 kg of cocaine to the Netherlands, during a pre-shipment inspection with the help of a canine team in the Guayaquil seaport on April 5, the PNE said.
On April 4, also in the Guayaquil seaport, authorities found 1,744 kg of cocaine inside a container that was bound for the United Kingdom, the PNE reported.
Seventy percent of the drugs sent from Ecuador to the United States or Europe is hidden in shipments leaving Guayaquil, the Ecuadorian digital newspaper Primicias reported on April 12. According to the news portal, the most widely used shipping method consists of opening containers that are ready to be shipped and hiding the drugs without the shipping company, the cargo owner, or the operators knowing about the crime.
On April 8, the U.S. government, through the U.S. Embassy’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) in Ecuador, donated 45 dogs, 26 vehicles, and various tactical and computer equipment to the PNE. The donation, valued at more than $2.1 million, aims to strengthen the PNE’s capabilities to dismantle transnational criminal organizations, the PNE reported. The donation took place at the National Canine Training Unit in Quito.
“This donation is part of the continuous support that the United States provides to the Ecuadorian government through donations, technical assistance, training, and infrastructure remodeling, to advance the joint fight against transnational organized crime, narcotrafficking, and the violence and insecurity that these crimes entail,” Ory Abramowicz, director of the U.S. Embassy’s INL, said at the ceremony.
During the ceremony, General Carlos Cabrera, PNE deputy commander, thanked the U.S. government for its ongoing support in the fight against narcotrafficking. “Thanks to these donations, in 2020, we managed to seize more than 128,000 kg of drugs,” he said.
On March 30, Ecuadorian authorities announced the launch of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency initiative to provide Ecuadorian ports and airports with new technology to control narcotrafficking, money laundering, and smuggling, the Ministry of the Interior told the press.