US, Ecuador Seize More than 2.4 Tons of Drugs

US, Ecuador Seize More than 2.4 Tons of Drugs

By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo
March 12, 2021

U.S. and Ecuadorian law enforcement forces joined capabilities to seize 2,439 kilograms of drugs bound for Europe and North America, in operations carried out January 16-21, 2021.

On January 21, the Ecuadorian Navy said on Facebook that in a coordinated operation, the U.S. Coast Guard handed over two Ecuadorian citizens who were captured in international waters, 250 nautical miles west of El Salvador. The detainees, who carried 379 kg of cocaine, and the drugs were transferred to the North Coast Guard Subcommand in Esmeraldas, the Ecuadorian website Extra reported.

Ecuadorian Minister of Government Patricio Pazmiño said on Twitter that during another operation on January 19 the Police and the Navy had “dismantled an operational arm of a gang involved in drug trafficking to Mexico. There are seven detainees and 760 kg of cocaine seized.” The interdiction of the speedboat that carried the drug and the arrest of the criminals was conducted with support from the U.S. Coast Guard, the website Ecupunto reported.

Days earlier, authorities seized 1,300 kg of cocaine that was bound for Estonia, in the port of Guayaquil. On January 16, Minister Pazmiño said on Twitter that a narcotic detection dog alerted authorities to the presence of 1.3 tons of cocaine. The drug was inside a container, mixed with a cocoa shipment, the Ecuadorian newspaper El Universo reported on January 18.

Key link

“During 2020, the Police seized 54 tons more drugs than the last year. While 70 tons were seized in 2019, a total of 128 tons of drugs were seized in 2020,” El Universo reported on January 1.

In the last decade, Ecuador has become a key link in the international drug trade, and up to a third of Colombia’s cocaine is exported from Ecuador. The drug exits the ports, coasts, and airports of Ecuador, and then is sent to the United States, Europe, Asia, and Oceania, InSight Crime, an investigative and journalistic organization that specializes in organized crime in Latin America and the Caribbean, revealed on January 30.

The report Organized Crime and Value Chains, published in the Latin American Journal of Security Studies, said that Ecuador has become a country that holds a privileged position in the narcotrafficking value chain, by exponentially increasing its participation in the production, refinement, storage, and transport of illicit drugs.

“Certainly, the onslaught of narcotrafficking is brutal, mainly from large organized groups in Mexico and Colombia, which we are constantly fighting on the border with Colombia,” Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said on the radio show De Frente con el Presidente on January 19.

 

Certainly, the onslaught of narcotrafficking is brutal, mainly from large organized groups in Mexico and Colombia, which we are constantly fighting on the border with Colombia,” Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno.

 

During the radio program, Minister Pazmiño said that Ecuador is one of the largest cocaine producers in the world, indicating that “the areas of greater production are now on the southern border with Ecuador and on the northern border of Norte de Santander, precisely with Venezuela, which marks the two main routes to the Pacific and the Caribbean.”

Therefore, the Ministry of Defense has promoted the concept of regional cooperative security. “There have been meetings with the Military Forces of Colombia and Peru aimed at improving border security,” Ecuadorian Minister of Defense General Oswaldo Jarrín told the press on January 28. An example of regional cooperative security was the multinational exercise UNITAS LXI in Ecuador, in November 2020, with had the participation of 10 countries “to carry out a security presence exercise, to prevent challenges such as illegal fishing and narcotrafficking,” he added.

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