The capture of almost four tons of cocaine in two simultaneous raids in Ecuador has taken seizures beyond twelve tons in two months, suggesting drug trafficking through the country is on the rise.
The drugs were recovered following a raid in the outskirts of port city Guayaquil, where almost 1.5 tons was found, and another 80 miles away in the coastal city of La Libertad, where a 2.5 ton shipment was being stored, reported El Universo.
According to CRE Satelital, 13 people were arrested, among them Ecuadoreans, Colombians, Mexicans and a Dutch national.
The haul adds to the 38 tons of cocaine recovered in the first nine months of the year, as reported by El Comercio, and follows the seizure of 8.8 tons in two raids in Guayaquil in late August.
According to El Universo, the recent haul was due to be exported by container ship from Guayaquil. Ecuador's Interior Minister announced the drugs belonged to Colombian transnational crime group the Urabeños (see tweet below).
InSight Crime Analysis
The seizure of more than twelve tons of cocaine in less than two months suggest that the quantity of drugs moving through Ecuador is rising. A report from the American Police Community (Ameripol) released last week states that 120 tons of cocaine transit through the country each year, of which 20 to 25 percent is intercepted. Those statistics mean that either authorities have dramatically ramped up their interdiction rate, or, more likely, the amount of cocaine passing through the country has increased significantly. Either way, the capture of ten percent of the predicted yearly flow of cocaine in two months is a major coup for authorities.
If, as claimed, the Urabeños are the owners of this latest shipment, it would add weight to the notion that the Colombian group is colonizing what was once the territory of their rivals the Rastrojos. However, such reports must be handled with caution and the arrest of people of multiple nationalities suggests a more complex dynamic to the situation -- especially as Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel are also active in Ecuador.
SEE ALSO: Urabeños Profiles and News