Authorities in Ecuador have seized two tons of cocaine near the border with Peru, suggesting the country's growing role as a drug transit point for traffickers moving Peruvian as well as Colombian cocaine.
On November 20, police in Pasaje, in the border province of El Oro, seized two tons of cocaine and arrested five people, reported Hoy. According to Minister of the Interior Jose Serrano, who announced the seizure on his Twitter account, authorities found $160,000 cash along with the drugs.
The seizure, part of "Operation Halcon," (Falcon) brings the total quantity of drugs seized this year in Ecuador to 53 tons, according to Serrano. That number continues the trend of increasing drug seizures in Ecuador, which rose from 18 tons in 2010 to 42 tons in 2012, reported El Comercio.
InSight Crime Analysis
The El Oro seizure is the latest capture of multiple ton shipments of drugs in Ecuador, which has become a major transshipment point for drugs being trafficked to Europe, the US and other major markets. Ecuador could soon rival Venezuela as one of the primary South American drug dispatch points.
Transnational organized crime groups, particularly the Colombian Rastrojos and Urabeños, as well as Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, have traditionally controlled trafficking routes through Ecuador. Given the size of the El Oro shipment, it is likely linked to one of these major groups. However, El Oro is far from normal Colombian operations, which are based in the northern part of the country near the border, and commonly use the port of Guayaquil.
The discovery of large drug shipments near the southern border suggest a well-established trafficking infrastructure capable of moving drugs from production centers in central Peru, now the world's largest cocaine producer. Colombian brokers manage many of Peru's trafficking routes, while InSight Crime field investigations and the recent discovery of a large-scale export operation also point to a strong Mexican presence in the Piura region, a transshipment point in northwestern Peru.