Police in Ecuador claim to have seized significantly more cocaine this year than last, but total cocaine seizures are still far lower than in 2009.
El Comercio reports reports that the chief of the Ecuadorian National Police’s anti-narcotics division recently announced that officials have seized 25 metric tons of cocaine so far this year. This is 30 percent more than 2010, in which authorities claimed to have seized 18 tons.
However, the figure is still far lower than the amount of cocaine seized in 2009, which the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said was 65 tons.
On top of this, it is unclear whether this increase is due to improved interdiction efforts or the country’s growing importance as a cocaine transit route. According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, around 220 tons of cocaine pass through Ecuador each year.
The trend seems to be increasing, as both Colombian and Mexican drug trafficking organizations are thought to be deepening operations in the country. Indeed, the diversity of transnational criminal groups that are based in Ecuador caused one U.S. drug official to refer to country as the "UN of organized crime" in July.