Historic Perú cocaine seizure even larger than initial estimate
By Dialogo September 02, 2014
Perú seized 7.6 tons of cocaine last week – more than two tons more than initial reports.
“This is the largest drug seizure ever in Perú. It’s historic,” Interior Minister Daniel Urresti said.
The final tally, pricing the haul at more than US$300 million, places the seizure well above the already record-breaking six tons originally reported.
The cocaine was found stashed in a shipment of coal in the city of Trujillo and was expected to be trafficked to Spain and Belgium.
Officials said the cocaine belonged to a Mexican cartel in the Andean nation and didn’t name the organization publically.
Vicente Romero, the head of the Anti-Narcotics Division of Perú’s National Police, said the bust culminated a six-week operation that included the help of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The seizure represents a major step in Perú’s counter-narcotics fight, as the country supplanted Colombia as the world’s leading cocaine-producing nation. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) 2012 Crop Monitoring Report, Perú is home to 13 regions encompassing 60,400 hectares that grow coca, which is the main ingredient used to produce cocaine.
Authorities seized 2,200 metric tons of precursor chemicals bound for coca-growing regions, Romero said. The confiscated chemicals, combined with the coca crops that were destroyed, prevented at least 190 metric tons of cocaine from being produced, according to the National Commission for a Drug-Free Life (DEVIDA).
Ninety-three percent of the country’s coca crops are used for the drug trade, with the remaining plants used for traditional consumption and industrial use, according to DEVIDA.
So far this year, the Peruvian government was more than half way to reaching its goal of eradicating 30,000 hectares of illegal coca crops in 2014, according to DEVIDA.
Major narco-trafficker arrest in Colombia
Meanwhile, Colombian authorities arrested alleged international narco-trafficker Óscar Antonio Berrocal, a Costa Rican charged with trafficking cocaine shipments to the United States while working for Mexico’s ruthless Sinaloa Cartel.
“In Colombia, there is a valid order for his arrest and extradition [to the U.S.],” Colombian migration officials said in a prepared statement.
Berrocal - who goes by the aliases “Charlie,” “the Chef,” “Finquero” and “Rolex” - was taken into custody in Bogotá on Aug. 28.
Colombia is one of the world’s largest producers of cocaine, manufacturing about 290 tons of it annually, according to the UNODC.
The arrest of Berrocal, 52, continued Colombia’s string of recent successes.
Berrocal was apprehended three days after security agents seized 40 kilograms of cocaine hidden in a shipment of coal on a Liberian-flagged ship in the port municipality of Ciénaga, the Colombian Navy said.
Colombia’s Coast Guard Station Santa Marta and the Magdalena’s Technical Investigation Corps Prosecutors Office executed the interdiction.
The ship, the “Ping May,” had arrived from England and was bound for the Netherlands when agents found 40 packages of cocaine.
“The operation was developed by strengthening units and port controls by the Navy, which in this specific case allowed to conduct research in coordination with the CTI, establishing the cargo ship was contaminated,” the Colombian Navy said in a prepared statement.