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Colombian Cocaine Seizure ‘One Of The Largest’ Drug Grabs In History

REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Officials with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) aided international forces in a recent double cocaine bust, seizing one of the largest hauls of cartel narcotics in history.

Joint efforts between Spain, Ecuador and officials in the U.S. lead to the two interdictions by anti-trafficking forces, which nabbed a total haul of nearly 8 tons of cocaine. Authorities in Spain originally found evidence that a cartel based in South America planned on shipping a massive load of cocaine in January, which they worked to corroborate with U.S. and British intelligence, reports Fox News.

Spanish officials, with the help of Ecuadorean police and DEA agents, stopped a boat off the coast of Ecuador that was attempting to smuggle 5.5 tons of Colombian cocaine, according to an announcement Monday. The vessel was set to travel through the Panama Canal before crossing the Atlantic to take the narcotics to Spain. Agents boarded the vessel and arressted 24 suspected drug traffickers.

A Venezuela-flagged ship was also stopped by Spanish authorities May 4 near the island of Martinica in the Caribbean. The vessel was carrying 2.5 tons of cocaine, also bound for Spain. (RELATED: Cocaine Markets Are So Saturated, Cartels Are Doing The Unthinkable)

“It is one of the largest cocaine seizures in history and it takes apart a large drug-trafficking organization between South America and Spain,” Juan Ignocio Zoido, Spain’s interior minister, told El Pais, according to Fox News.

Coca cultivation is back to dominating the agricultural market in Colombia after a decade of decline. Production today even eclipses the cocaine output of Pablo Escobar’s infamous Medellin Cartel. Roughly 460,000 acres of coca is currently planted throughout the country, producing 710 tons of cocaine in 2015, up from only 235 tons of output in 2013.

The U.S. Coast Guard seized nearly 16 tons of cocaine during a series of drug busts in the Pacific Ocean, targeting smuggling routes over a 26-day period in March.

Authorities estimate the total cocaine seizure to be worth $420 million. The Coast Guard interdicted 17 drug smuggling vessels traveling in the Eastern Pacific along the coasts of Central and South America during the 26-day mission with the assistance of Canadian authorities.

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