Ecuador’s security forces stopped more than 6 tons of cocaine from leaving Guayaquil ports in two operations in early April and mid-March 2022.
On April 1, Ecuador’s National Police said via Twitter that its agents seized more than 3 tons of the drug hidden in banana crates that were being transported in a truck bound for a Guayaquil port, with Netherlands as the final destination. Authorities also apprehended the driver of the vehicle.
The Police’s National Anti-Crime Investigation Unit (UNIAD) seized 3 tons of cocaine in Guayaquil on March 18, during Operation Rescue Ecuador–Victory 17 (Operación Rescate Ecuador–Victoria 17). Authorities seized the drugs from a truck with a container of timber, according to UNIAD.
During the operation, one person with an arrest warrant for drug trafficking was detained and two vehicles were seized, reported Ecuadorian newspaper El Comercio. The drug was meant to ship by sea to Antwerp, Belgium.
General Víctor Hugo Zárate, commander of Police Zone 8, said that while they were checking the vehicle, agents found the drugs in a false bottom of the container.
“With this action we dealt a hard blow to narcotrafficking mafias […]; we reaffirm our commitment to remain active in search of greater results,” UNIAD said.
In the first quarter of the year, police seized more than 52 tons of drugs and dismantled 27 criminal organizations, reported Mexican newspaper La Jornada. Of these, the police reported that some 3 tons were for the domestic market and the rest was bound abroad.
“The method of contaminating containers with cocaine is at its peak in the country’s ports,” reported Ecuadorian news site Primicias.
“Authorities in Guayaquil, Ecuador, report that armed gangs are boarding the ships and pointing guns at the crew to force them to carry the shipments,” indicates InSight Crime’s report The Cocaine Pipeline to Europe 2021. The organization studies organized crime in Latin America.
The report points to Guayaquil as one of the main dispatch points for drug shipments bound for Europe to supply the Italian and Balkan mafias. In 2021, Ecuador’s security forces seized more than 200 tons of drugs, 50 of these were seized in Guayaquil ports, Ecuadorian newspaper El Universo reported on December 20, 2021.