Ecuadorian authorities remain steadfast in their fight against narcotrafficking and organized crime. The ongoing and coordinated work of the Attorney General’s Office and the National Police has led to record levels of drug seizures.
In 2021, authorities seized 210 tons of cocaine, while between January and August 1, 2022, authorities stopped 112 tons of the drug from leaving the country, Swiss broadcasting corporation Swissinfo reported.
In its World Drug Report 2022, published in June, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) pointed to Ecuador as the third country worldwide with the largest cocaine seizures in 2020, after Colombia and the United States, which accounted for 6.5 percent of the total cocaine seized globally that year.
In early August 2022, UNODC presented the main findings of the report in an event held in Ecuador for the first time. The document highlights the increase in drug production and trafficking worldwide, as well as trends in the consumption of these substances and their implications for public health.
According to the analysis, between 2016 and 2020, some 90 percent of the cocaine trafficked was transported by sea and/or in containers.
The South American country was the first country in the region to join the UNODC Container Control Program (CCP) in which 19 other countries participate. In 2021, Ecuador’s port control units of the CCP program had the highest cocaine seizures of all participating countries, which UNODC qualified as a success.
“We estimated that as of June of this year , these units have seized 79 percent of the total amount of cocaine seized for all of 2021; as such a new seizure record could be expected for 2022,” said a UNODC representative. “I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate on behalf of the U.N. the work of the Ecuadorian government for demonstrating its commitment and for the results achieved last year and this year,” the representative added.
These seizure levels that Ecuador has achieved are due to ongoing and coordinated work between all State control agencies, which are dealing hard blows to narcotrafficking. Among the most recent operations carried out in August 2022, three stand out, which resulted in the seizure of more than 7 tons of cocaine.
In an operation on August 5, the Police’s National Investigation Unit of Ports and Airports (UIPA) seized 3 tons of cocaine hidden in a cargo of plastic bound for Belgium, Ecuadorian newspaper El Comercio reported.
In another operation dubbed Emperor (Operación Emperador), the UIPA, thanks to investigative techniques and classified information, located a container loaded with bananas near a port in Guayaquil with 1,600 packages containing some 1,842 tons of cocaine, the National Police said in an August 7 statement. The drugs were bound for the island of Cyprus, close to Turkey, a country considered to be the new route for drugs departing from Ecuadorian ports, Ecuadorian newspaper Primicias reported.
In the third operation called Armageddon, carried out with the help of detection dogs, authorities seized 2,550 packages of cocaine in a container of frozen pineapples bound for Belgium, reported General Victor Zárate Pérez, commander of the Police Zone 8.
In the first seven months of 2022, Zone 8, which includes the cities of Guayaquil, Durán, and Samborondón, seized more than 63 tons of illicit substances, Gen. Zárate Pérez said. The Police foresees that Ecuador’s record results of the last few years will be broken again this 2022.