More Than $1 Billion Of Cocaine Seized In Record Haul In Uruguay
More than four tonnes of cocaine, worth $1 billion, was uncovered in a record haul on Christmas Day.
The Uruguayan navy carried out the seizure, which is being called the "biggest blow to drug trafficking in the country's history".
According to news agency AFP, authorities discovered the class-A substance in four soy flour containers bound for Lome, the capital of Togo, as they passed through the port of Montevideo.
It's understood they were alerted to the haul after scanners showed "anomalies" during their checks.
DGRTID - allanaron establecimiento rural donde se habrían cargado los contenedores intervenidos en el Puerto de Mdeo, (Km 292 de la Ruta 21 - próximo a Dolores, Soriano). Se incautó más droga en el lugar. Dueño e hijo detenidos y declarando en Fiscalía por estas horas. pic.twitter.com/E5VFudEkht
- UNICOM (@MI_UNICOM) December 27, 2019
Suspicions were raised because of the sheer amount of soya purportedly being transported to Africa, especially when soya is not widely consumed on the continent.
The stash of cocaine weighed an enormous 4,418 kg, which equated to 4,003 bricks, and was uncovered in the first two containers that were checked as part of the joint investigation by the navy and customs.
At the time of the discovery, Uruguay's customs director Jaime Borgiani, said the gear would be worth around $1bn (£765m) on the European market.
Following further investigation, however, another 1.5 tonnes of cocaine was later found during the search of a ranch; this brought the revised total up to $1.3bn (£1bn).
It is understood that the ranch's owner, his son, and two other workers were arrested in relation to the incidents.
Mr Borgiani said it was an important moment for authorities in showing how effective they are at catching drugs being smuggled out of the country.
He said: "The important thing is to show the world and drug traffickers that you don't mess around with Uruguayan customs. We've taken the necessary steps to rid the country of this scourge."
This is the latest haul of drugs to have been confiscated on its way out of Uruguay.
Earlier this year, German authorities seized 4.5 tonnes of the class A substance, worth €1bn ($1.11 bn), which, at the time, was the biggest in the country's history.
The stash was on its way to Antwerp, Belgium, when it was discovered in a shipping container in the port city of Hamburg.
According to the paperwork, the container was supposedly made up entirely of soybeans, but when officers opened it up they found more than 4,200 packets of cocaine in 211 sports bags.
Featured Image Credit: Interior Ministry