Ecuador’s Navy uses technology to capture boat transporting cocaine
By Dialogo October 24, 2013
The Ecuadorian Navy and police forces collaborated recently to seize 799 kilos of cocaine in the country’s territorial waters, drugs which were destined for Central American and ultimately north to the United States, authorities reported.
Advanced technology helped the authorities find the boat that was smuggling the cocaine, according to Naval officials.
Ecuadorian Interior Minister José Serrano wrote about the news on his Twitter account on Oct. 13, 2013. “Police in coordination with the Navy carried out a successful operation on the high seas. Good job counter-narcotics,” Serrano tweeted.
The Unit Against Organized Crime (ULCO) of the National Police alerted the Navy of the presence of a Panamanian-flagged vessel which was suspected of transporting illegal drugs off the Ecuadorian coast, officials said. Making good use of technology, the Navy sent several drones into the air to track down the suspected boat. The Navy uses drones to track down suspicious vessels and to gather information.
Suspected boat intercepted
The drones located the suspicious boat, named “Doria,” about 130 nautical miles southwest of the port of Manta, in Ecuador’s Exclusive Economic Zone, according to a statement from the Navy. The boat was located in the Puerto López region in Manabí, according to the Navy.
The suspicious boat was located at about 3:30 a.m. on Oct. 13.
The Manta Naval Air Station transmitted the location of the Doria to a Coast Guard boat named the “Isla Santa Cruz.” The Coast Guard vessel, commanded by Lt. Lenin Alvarado Flores, intercepted the Doria, according to authorities.
Coast Guard authorities boarded the Doria, and found about 700 pages of a white substance, believed to be cocaine, according to the Navy. The packages were transported to a laboratory, which confirmed they contained about 800 kilograms of cocaine.
Coast Guard authorities detained the Doria’s five-person crew, according to the Navy. Two of the crew members are Colombian, one is Nicaraguan, one is Panamanian, and one is from the United States, according to the Coast Guard.
Suspicious boat is inspected
The Coast Guard placed the five suspects into the custody of the District Attorney of Manta, which is conducting an investigation.
Prosecutor Cesar Ponce, who is leading the investigation, boarded the boat, along with counter-narcotics investigators with the National Police. The governor of Manabí, Susana Dueñas, and Police Colonel Edison Gallardo, Zone 4 Commander, also boarded the vessel.
Capt. Jose Marcos Vaca, commander of the Port of Manta, told journalists who arrived to cover the seizure that the Doria was built for fishing, but was not equipped for that activity.
“What you have just seen is an apparent fishing boat,” Marcos Vaca said. “It only has the appearance of a fishing boat, but there are no nets or equipment used for fishing.”
Dedication to public safety
National Police anti-narcotics investigators had learned a transnational drug trafficking organization was operating in the region, smuggling drugs in large boats, a few days before the Navy seized cocaine from the Doria, authorities said.
“This is the work of the National Police that led to the criminal organization. That information was forwarded to the Navy so that, with its technical capability, the suspect vessel could be intercepted,” Col. Gallardo said.
The operation was praised by Gov. Dueñas. “
We have a police force committed to public safety. This is confirmed by the work in preventing a criminal organization from fulfilling its purpose,” the governor of Manabí said for her part.
The National Police and the Navy have cooperated in counternarcotics operations before.
In May 2013, the National Police and the Navy seized more than 700 kilograms of cocaine in Tenguel, a town of 50,000 inhabitants near Guayaquil.
Authorities found the cocaine hidden inside boxes of bananas and plastic tanks. Authorities suspect the drugs belonged to the Sinaloa Cartel, the Mexican transnational criminal organization which is led by fugitive kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. Officials believe El Chapo’s operatives were going to load the cocaine into a boat or boats, which would take the drugs north to Mexico. Eventually, El Chapo’s forces planned on transporting the cocaine into the United States, authorities believe.
El Chapo in Ecuador
Officials consider Ecuador a transit point for drugs which are transported from South America to Mexico, the United States, and Europe.
In 2012, Ecuadorian authorities confiscated 42 tons of illegal drugs, compared to 26 tons which were seized in 2011.
Like the case in Tenguel, police suspect that the Sinaloa Cartel was involved in transporting drugs which were confiscated in other seizures in recent months:
• In early October 2013, seized 302 kilograms of cocaine from a truck driver in the northern border city of Ibarra. Authorities believe the drugs belonged to the Sinaloa Cartel.
• In May 2013, Ecuadorian police arrested five Ecuadorians and four Mexicans who were suspected of being part of a drug trafficking network. Police also seized 453 kilograms of cocaine and $276,567 in cash. The arrests and seizures were part of part of “Operación Aluvión.”
• In April 2013, Ecuadorian police alerted the Coast Guard that a yacht, the “Green Onion,” was transporting a large quantity of cocaine. The Coast Guard pursued the boat, which escaped into international waters. The Ecuadorian Navy alerted the U.S. Coast Guard, which captured the boat in waters near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. When they realized they were about to be captured, the crew burned about four tons of cocaine.
• In November 2012, authorities in Tonga, an island approximately 3,000 miles south of Australia, discovered a 40-foot boat with 200 kilos of cocaine and a decomposing body. The yacht had departed from Ecuador. The boat and drugs probably belonged to El Chapo, Australian police said. The Sinaloa Cartel traffics half of the cocaine smuggled into Australia, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
• In June 2012, Ecuadorian authorities found a plane with Mexican plates abandoned inside a hangar in San Pablo, in the coastal province of Santa Elena. The plane was probably used for drug trafficking, authorities said.
• In May 2012, a small plane from Mexico crashed in Manabí. Authorities found $1.4 million dollars in cash on the plane. The pilot and the co-pilot both died. They were both from Sinaloa, El Chapo’s home state. Authorities believe the money belonged to El Chapo.
El Chapo has been operating in Ecuador and other Central American countries for years, said Ricardo Camacho Zeas, Ecuadorian security analyst.
“In the latest case, we don’t have the evidence yet, but it is believed that El Chapo is behind this drug smuggling attempt,” the security analyst said.
PLEASE DON'T EXAGGERATE, THESE PEOPLE ARE BEING INFORMED BY THE DEA, OTHERWISE THEY WOULDN'T DO ANYTHING ON THEIR OWN. IN PERU IT'S THE SAME, DEA GIVES THEM ALL THE DETAILS, IF THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN THEY WOULDN'T DO ANYTHING. EVEN IF THEY KNOW, THEY PLAY DUMB, BUT SINCE DEA INFORMS THEM UP TO THE MINUTE, NOW THEY ACT SERIOUSLY. hi, our president is also involved in drugs, she has the country full of marijuana and cocaine laboratories. Unfortunately, drugs exist because of the buyers mafia, otherwise all that investment for control could be used for charity purposes. Excellent Very good It's time to take decisive action against drug traffickers. They are damaging the most beloved treasure of a nation: YOUTH. With God's help and the unity of the entire nation, we can control It's time to forget about the unhealthy culture and attitude of achieving prominence, Between "I'm the one who gave notice and the other guy only did the work", who is more important? The Army of Ecuador has always worked silently fulfilling its duty and doing many positive things that have never been disclosed, things that it hasn't made public due to professional ethics, because it doesn't have the selfish goal of gaining fame. I think that both institutions are NOBLE, SELFLESS, PROFESSIONAL AND SELFLESS and should work this way, always in coordination and without professional egos, in order to continue obtaining better results. And of course our governors should evaluate with equity and justice the work done by these two institutions which are pillars for the Internal and external security of our Nation. Coastguards should be equipped with short-range missiles so they they can destroy that type of high-velocity boats within our territorial sea. They have to keep shooting those criminals, always and forever. I think that drugs are also used in politics. In Peru there are no drug findings like the ones in Ecuador or Venezuela because they want to help say that only in those countries there is drug trafficking, but look at Colombia, nobody is saying a thing because they (the U.S.) are in on it. Believe me, it's true. I like it Good job for the Armed Forces and the Police The big effort made by the police is to their credit, the strange thing about the case is that they figure out things that are important for the development of good and accurate investigation after the fact. Acts that truly help the on-going elimination of drug-trafficking in the world.... I hope it will be very useful to me. Congratulations to the National Police and the Navy for their efficient work. It's very important to know the achievements in this area. The Marines are the best of all. Now the police is taking action, and poor narcs who help the country. Well, I don't know what will happen in the world with the drugs. But everything is wrong, drugs are surrounding the world. Congratulation to Ecuador!!! it's a shame that our generals (not all of them) are knee-deep in the drug business, very deep in it. We the Venezuelans have to fix this, and it will be soon... we can't take it anymore!!! Fighting drug trafficking step by step is a mission. Crack down on drugs Congratulations to the National Police, to the Army of our country, Ecuador, to the National Government, and to everyone who are involved in controlling the terrible plague that drugs are. What a shame that we have to spend the money of Ecuadorian people to prevent them from transporting drugs to the U. S. when at the end of the day they don't care about prevention anything. On the contrary, they encourage it with their prices and consumption; Americans are the biggest consumers in the world and they live off the drug business... how much longer, for God's sake. Great work by the Honorable National Police and the Marines. They deserve our support and congratulations, keep it up! As chief engineer of tuna vessels from 1984 on, we found abandoned ships offshore with everything in place but no crew, which proves that once the drugs were loaded onto another vessel, they would abandon the boat. And these were very expensive yachts. Excellent way to work, it brings great results. Well done? Finding the drugs took time.