Ecuador Police Seize More Than Three Tons of Cocaine in Banana Containers

Police in Ecuador announced that they have seized more than three tons of cocaine in banana containers at one of the Central American country's ports as part of ongoing efforts to fight the drug trade.

The Ecuadorian police's official Twitter account reported the drugs bust on Friday and shared a video of officers and what appeared to be police sniffer dogs with the drugs haul.

The country's authorities have been engaged in stringent efforts to tackle drug trafficking and seized 210 tons of drugs - a record amount - over the course of 2021.

"We seized more than 3 TONS of alkaloids, at the entrance to one of the seaports of #GYE," the Ecuadorian National Police (PNE) announced on Twitter, sharing a video showing the drugs.

GYE refers to the Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil, which is the second largest city in the nation and Ecuador's main port. It is also the capital of the province of Guayas.

Police also reported that an individual had been apprehended.

The drugs were found inside banana boxes at the port city and this is not the first time that Ecuadorian authorities have made drugs seizures in shipping containers sometimes meant for storing bananas.

Víctor Zárate, zone commander of the Ecuadorian National Police, said the cocaine had been packed in blocks and was "camouflaged inside banana boxes."

Those boxes had reportedly been transported in a truck from the country's Los Ríos province to Guayas. The drugs were intended for transportation to the Netherlands.

Though three tons is a significant amount of cocaine, the country's police have made similar drugs hauls over the past year.

In January, the nation's security forces seized almost 14 tons of cocaine in several operations, including in Guayas province, and made several arrests.

On January 16, police seized 253kg (around 557 pounds) of cocaine that had been hidden in shipping containers containing bananas. The ship where the drugs were found was bound for Greece.

Ecuador's National Canine Unit has been involved in the ongoing work to tackle the drugs trade. In October, police seized a ton of cocaine bound for Bulgaria after a police dog drew attention to the drugs in a container at the port of Guayaquil.

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso told journalists on February 16 that his country "cannot yield space to these criminal gangs" and said that "there are already countries that claim that many containers arrive with drugs at their destination, and begin to look at [products from] Ecuador as brands that they need to be careful and concerned about."

The three tons confiscated this week pale in comparison to some of the largest seizures in history. In February 2021, authorities in Germany and Belgium seized 23 tons of cocaine bound for the Netherlands.

In June 2019, U.S. authorities seized almost 20 tons of cocaine in shipping containers on board a vessel at Philadelphia.

Three Tons of Cocaine Seized in Ecuador
Ecuadorean anti-narcotics police stand guard next to packs of cocaine from a 3-ton shipment seized from a container of bananas, in the port of Guayaquil, Ecuador, on April 1, 2022. The country is engaged in ongoing efforts to tackle drug trafficking. Marcos PIN / AFP/Getty Images