Ecuadorian Authorities Seize 1.5 Tons of Cocaine, Arrest 20 People

© REUTERS / SANTIAGO ARCOSA Police officer stands guard during Ecuadorean unions members' march against labor reforms proposed by president Guillermo Lasso in Quito, Ecuador October 20, 2021.
A Police officer stands guard during Ecuadorean unions members' march against labor reforms proposed by president Guillermo Lasso in Quito, Ecuador October 20, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.10.2021
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MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) - Ecuadorian police and prosecution seized 1.5 tons of cocaine meant for New Zealand from a warehouse in Guayas province in a joint operation.
"One thousand five hundred and forty-six kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride, five vehicles, a container and 20 arrests are the results of the operation carried out in Pascuales," the Ecuadorian police said on Twitter.
The busted warehouse was located near a highway in Guayas province, home to Ecuador's main port, Guayaquil. The drugs were supposed to be sent to New Zealand hidden in a banana shipment, the prosecution said.
Ecuador faces a severe drug trafficking problem, which has only grown over the recent years. Before, international criminal gangs used the country as a middle point for cocaine shipments from Peru and Colombia, but now, small laboratories started to pop up in the north of Ecuador. Domestic consumption and distribution of drugs has also increased.
In 2021, Ecuadorian authorities, with the support of the United States, have seized record 146 tons of cocaine, compared to 120 tons a year prior, and 79 tons in 2019.
Earlier in the week, authorities installed a new radar in the province of Manabi to track illegal aircraft, and yet another will be installed in the coastal province of Santa Elena soon. President Guillermo Lasso proposed to the parliament a bill that will allow to shoot down planes that do not obey orders from the air force in order to combat drug trafficking.
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