Ecuador- 63 Tons of COCAINE!

This item was filled under [ Travel to Ecuador ]

Guayaquil, EcuadorWhy did those three men jump over the 5 foot fence in a single bound when the policeman drove up in his “cop car?”

The reason?  3 tons of cocaine inside the walled off “lab.”  Ecuador is an important transportation hub for cocaine and other illegal drugs (if you call that important).  The pharmacies of Ecuador and all over Latin America sell pills, potions and lotions with logos stamped on the packages.  One would think that they are from well known European and US pharmaceutical houses.  Only thing is, the drugs are not really produced by those pharmaceutical houses.  They are conterfeit drugs from Colombia.  Sometimes patients and sick folks dies from this travesty.

Last year, 63 tons of cocaine, twice as much as in 2008, was seized and destroyed.
Check out the following story from the Los Angeles Times Reporter, Chris Kraul-

Guayaquil’s sprawling port and maze of estuaries and waterways have become a favored staging area for drug shipments to the U.S. and Europe. So has the city’s international airport, where arrests of “mules,” or human smugglers, was up 15% last year from 2008. Quito has the same story.

The week before the Bastion Popular raid, Ecuadorean anti-narcotics police pulled off another major seizure in Guayaquil, netting more than 5 tons of cocaine mixed with fruit pulp headed for Portugal.

In October, police arrested six Colombians in nearby Santo Domingo de los Colorados, located just a couple of hours outside of Quito,   who had hidden nearly a ton of cocaine inside hundreds of hollowed-out pineapples bound for Spain. Colombia is just up the road from a few hours north of Quito passing Cotacachi, Otavalo and Ibarra.

During the year’s most spectacular raid, police in May confiscated 28 tons of cocaine-laced molasses that was about to be shipped, allegedly by Russian mobsters, to Europe.

Russia, where a kilo of cocaine sells for $100,000 wholesale, or four times the U.S. price, is now the world’s hottest market for the drug, police say.

Traffickers’ growing use of Ecuadorean labs to process cocaine from unrefined paste imported from Peru and Colombia is an especially worrisome trend, authorities say.

The increase is a result of tighter controls in those two countries on chemicals used to process the powder, said police Col. Joel Loaiza, Ecuador’s anti-drug chief.

International experts have estimated that as much as 200 tons, or one-third of the cocaine produced in Colombia, may be transiting through Ecuador, four times the estimated percentage a decade ago.

Combating the cartels has become more complicated since U.S. surveillance aircraft left the Manta air base in June after President Rafael Correa refused to renew a lease agreement, officials say. The shift of those flights to Colombia — as well as the departure of U.S. Coast Guard vessels from Ecuadorean waters — has lengthened response time to suspicious activity.

The upshot: a sharp decline in captures of cocaine-laden fishing boats and others that head out to sea to rendezvous with larger smuggling vessels.

“Manta was our eyes and ears,” said one Ecuadorean police official who asked not to be identified because of security concerns. “They had equipment we don’t have.”

And Ecuador’s new socialist government  is running  the US drug operations out of Manta!  Why?  (Could it be that the Government of Ecuador has friends in the business?  Friends like the Revolutionary Army of Colombia, also known as the FARC?
U.S. anti-drug officials praise Loaiza and his police force for fighting a war for which they are relatively underequipped.

Ecuador received $7 million in U.S. anti-drug aid last year, less than half the amount received by Peru or Bolivia, yet seized more than twice the tonnage of cocaine confiscated by either of those countries, U.S. officials said. (Colombia, which gets $500 million in anti-drug and anti-terrorism aid through Plan Colombia, seized about 100 tons.)

“In the global context, we had a very successful year,” Loaiza said last week at his office in Quito, the capital.

“Our intelligence is better, we have good cooperation with our neighbors and we are more efficient watching our borders, highways and ports. . . . But since we are a growing platform for drugs from Colombia and Peru, we wish we had more help from the U.S. and others.”

Despite Correa’s expulsion of the U.S. aircraft and his sometimes anti-American rhetoric, U.S. officials have consistently praised his assistance in anti-drug operations.

“Ecuador has steadfastly eradicated any signs of coca cultivation within its national territory and consistently received plaudits from Washington on that front,” said Bruce Bagley, an international studies professor at the University of Miami.

The seven labs taken down last year were in an area stretching from the Colombian and Peruvian borders to the eastern jungle lowlands in Sucumbios state. In June, police near Cuenca seized 23 tons of sodium hydroxide, a chemical used to process cocaine.

The owners of the lab raided last year in Bastion Popular invested in double-concrete-block walls and a watchtower near the entrance.

Often, cocaine seized in Ecuador bears the trademark of the Colombian cartel that owns it, as was the case with the cocaine seized in Bastion Popular. But none of the eight Ecuadoreans arrested have identified their employer.

“They’d rather do eight or 10 years in prison than risk talking,” said one police official.

Kraul is a special correspondent.

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Heard about the new law in Ecuador that the “new”  Government of Ecuador  got passed last year?  Anyone caught stealing an amount under $600 goes  ”scot free “because “it is not a crime!”  Guess what started happening?  People started getting robbed in broad daylight of $599.99!  This may be an exaggeration but this ridiculous  law was passed in 2009!

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