- Title: Ecuador announces record total drug haul in 2016
- Date: 5th December 2016
- Summary: PHOTOGRAPH OF POLICE OPERATION TO SEIZE DRUGS
- Embargoed: 20th December 2016 21:04
- Keywords: drugs seize police operation interior ministry bananas
- Location: GUAYAQUIL AND QUITO, ECUADOR
- City: GUAYAQUIL AND QUITO, ECUADOR
- Country: Ecuador
- Reuters ID: LVA0035BLZ6F7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Ecuador announced on Monday (December 5) that it had seized over 90 tonnes of illicit drugs in 2016, an increase from 71.9 tonnes they seized in the first 11 months of 2015.
"There are 90.2 tonnes of drugs that have been seized to date. These exceeds the 70 tonnes that we seized last year," said Ecuador Interior Minister Diego Fuentes.
According to interior ministry officials, 77% of the drugs seized in 2015 were in the form of cocaine chloridate but authorities also successfully captured shipments of heroine, marijuana and cocaine paste.
Just this past week, officials said the seized 10 tonnes of drugs in several operations. On Saturday, they busted the largest drug operation of the year when they seized 7.4 tonnes of drugs in Guayaquil, heading to Honduras. Earlier in the week, they seized 3 tonnes of drugs in Guayaquil, also headed to Honduras and, eventually, to the United States.
"We presume, according to the information we have from other regional police with whom we have frequent coordination, specifically over the transportation routes of this drug-- that the final destination was to go through Central America and go to the United States," Fuentes added.
Authorities also found drug shipments hidden in boxes of bananas and shrimp flour that were headed to Europe.
The Ecuadorean Interior Ministry coordinates anti-drug efforts between the military, national police and their Colombian counterparts.
Much of the drugs that pass through Ecuador come from neighbouring Colombia and are headed north, to the consumer countries of the United States, Canada and Europe.
Fuentes said it is not unusual to find drugs hidden in containers for legal goods.
"The last case was the "Buffalo" case. It was a drug trafficking case we had in the city of Guayaquil which was handled by the anti-narcotics intelligence unit. This case is quite important because we achieved the dismantling of a criminal structure that would take drugs to Colombia, transport it by land and, later, take that drug to the country's ports so that they could take it to the international market hidden under cover," he said.
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