Authorities in Ecuador say two large cocaine seizures off the country's coast belonged to Mexico's Familia Michoacana. However, the fact they are basing this assertion on generic packaging logos, coupled with the fact that little remains of the Familia but its offshoots, raises questions about the veracity of the claims.
The 949 kilos haul of cocaine was seized from a fishing boat off the coast of Guayaquil during operation "Daybreak," reported El Comercio.
Police Commander Marcelo Suarez said the logos found on the cocaine packets suggest the load belonged to the Familia Michoacana, as they were similar to those found during a May operation that resulted in the seizure of 470 kilos of cocaine, also supposedly belonging to the Familia. The cocaine in both shipments had the logos of Volvo, BMW, and Toyota as seals of identification, reported Hoy.
SEE ALSO: Familia Michoacana News and Profiles
Authorities believe the fishing boat was en route to transfer the cocaine to a larger vessel destined for Mexico, reported El Comercio.
InSight Crime Analysis
Criminal groups in the region use a wide variety of brand names to mark cocaine, commonly including car company logos, raising questions as to how Ecuadorean authorities are able to use these marks to link the seizures with one specific cartel.
Packets of cocaine usually have two identification symbols. The first is placed directly on the cocaine by the producer before it is packaged. This seal serves as a guarantee of purity and as such, is important for demonstrating the credibility of the producers' merchandise. The second logo is added to the packaging by the supplier as a mark of identification. Large shipments usually come from various suppliers, meaning the logos are important for demonstrating who supplied what.
The statements of the Ecuadorean officials are also surprising given that the Familia is believed to be a largely defunct organization at this point, with many of its senior figures and criminal networks now part of the Knights Templar criminal organization. It is possible the authorities are merely using the old name to refer to the new group. However, it is Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel that is most commonly associated with operations in Ecuador.