On June 9th, Colombian authorities announced that 5 tons of cocaine had been seized in a single operation, in the biggest haul since the beginning of the COVID-19 hysteria.
A sniffer dog discovered the drug inside two containers carrying granulated rubber in the port of Buenaventura in the southwest of the country.
The cargo was headed for Turkey, National Police Anti-Narcotics Director Jorge Luis Ramirez Aragon said in a video statement.
¡Felicitaciones a la @PoliciaAntiNar por duro golpe contra el narcotráfico! En Buenaventura fueron incautadas 4,9 toneladas de cocaína que tenían como destino final Turquía, donde tendría un costo aproximado de 265 millones de dólares. @PoliciaColombia pic.twitter.com/zttgaBi8aZ
— Carlos Holmes Trujillo (@CarlosHolmesTru) June 9, 2020
The cocaine was worth about $265 million, Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said in a tweet.
Colombia is infamous as the world’s top producer of cocaine. Colombia had 212,000 hectares under coca cultivation in 2019, up from 208,000 hectares in 2018, U.S. government data shows.
This doesn’t really come as a surprise, but the COVID-19 pandemic has not put a stop to drug trafficking in the country.
Security forces seized about 180 tons of cocaine in the first five months of this year, up 8% from the corresponding period in 2019, according to figures quoted by El Tiempo.
In February 2020, in Bulgaria (which is a neighbor to Turkey where the cocaine was allegedly headed) authorities seized half a ton of cocaine from Colombia, hidden in two trucks carrying citrus fruits, the country’s interior ministry said.
The drug was hidden in 6,700 boxes of fruit, with between 80 and 100 grams in each box, amounting to a total of “approximately 500 kilos” said Interior Ministry Secretary-General Ivaylo Ivanov. The market price is €22 million ($25 million) wholesale, Ivanov said.
He specified that according to the information available to the ministry, the drug is of extremely high purity.
The shipment reached Europe by sea, and then Bulgaria by land. Most likely, the drug is intended for the Bulgarian market, leading investigators to believe that it “indicates the existence of an international drug trafficking route.”
Two men, whose companies were listed as recipients of the cargo, were remanded in custody and have been charged with “participation in an organised crime group for cocaine trafficking from Colombia to Bulgaria.” One of those arrested is a former director of the Sofia Customs Agency.
In November 2019, Italian police seized almost 1.2 tonnes of cocaine in a cargo of bananas that originated from South America, making it the sixth largest seizure in Italian history.
According to EU’s judicial cooperation agency Europol, on a global scale the cocaine business is worth at least 300 billion euros a year with an estimated total production of around 2,000 tons. Some 700 tons of which ends up in Europe, while the most of the rest goes to supply the North American market.
A Europol report revealed that in 2019 28,585 kilos of cocaine, were intercepted in Europe, along with 9,224 kilos of heroin and 41,283 kilos of cannabis, while 2,686 people were arrested for drug trafficking in the EU throughout the year.
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