Africa-Bound Cocaine Seized in Ecuador

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Police in Ecuador announced the seizure of 400 kilograms of cocaine bound for West Africa.

Police found the drugs in the port city of Guayaquil, located in Guayas province, reported El Comercio.

Bound in 360 packages stamped with the logo of an apple and the letter V, the cocaine was hidden among containers full of fish and octopus.

Two Ecuadorean nationals were arrested in the operation, but police believe more suspects are still at large.

Documents indicated that the cargo was bound for Benin, a country in West Africa. The seizure is the latest indication of the region’s increased importance for the drug trade. West Africa is used as a departure point to ship cocaine in Europe, where the high-value Euro allows drug cartels to earn bigger profits than trading in dollars. An estimated $800 million in drugs passes through the region each year.

Besides Ecuador, other South American countries like Brazil have observed trafficking links between local groups and Africa. On August 1, Brazilian authorities arrested 24 people trying to travel from to Angola, while carrying ingested cocaine capsules.

While Guayas is one of Ecuador’s smaller provinces, its access to Guayaquil’s por has made it a center of Ecuador’s drug trafficking industry. One of 24 provinces, Guayas accounted for over 10 tons, or about 65 percent of the country’s cocaine seizures so far this year, compared with the rest of the country. Ecuador may yet be on track to see a record year for cocaine seizures, following a record 65 tons confiscated in 2009.

See InSight Crime’s timeline on drug smuggling in North and West Africa.

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