Colombia's anti-narcotics police reported the discovery of one of the biggest cocaine production laboratories to be found in the country in recent years, which was allegedly operated by the neo-paramilitary drug gang ERPAC.
General Luis Alberto Perez, head of the Anti-Narcotics Police, announced that officers seized six tons of cocaine during the operation, along with one ton of coca base and 120 tons of precursor chemicals.
The facility could produce between 500 and 800 kilos of cocaine HCl a week, making it one of the largest facilities found in recent years, according to the general.
The cocaine lab was located in a rural area between the towns of Puerto Lopez and Puerto Gaitan in the eastern department of Meta. According to police, the complex had the capacity to hold 40 people and contained large quantities of long-life food, allowing workers to remain onsite for long periods of time.
The Popular Revolutionary Anti-Terrorist Army of Colombia (ERPAC) developed into a drug trafficking gang from its roots as a right-wing paramilitary group. It controls territory in the Eastern Plains region of the country, where it produces and transports cocaine.
The group was founded and led by Pedro Oliveiro Guerrero, alias "Cuchillo," who died in December 2010 during a clash with security forces.
Security drives over the last decade are pushing cocaine production out of Colombia and into other countries in the region. So far this year, Venezuelan authorities have dismantled at least 17 cocaine laboratories in the western states of Tachira and Zula, bordering Colombia. Meanwhile, in June, Honduras found its first cocaine lab, reportedly bigger than those generally found in Colombia.