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Colombia: 12 tonnes of Cocaine seized in biggest bust in history

In the nation's long-running fight against drug trafficking, over 12 tonnes of cocaine have been seized, with the estimated market value of around $360 million

9 November 2017, 8:52am
Colombian police and soldiers guard more than 12 tons of seized cocaine in Apartado, Colombia (Photo: the Guardian)
Colombian police and soldiers guard more than 12 tons of seized cocaine in Apartado, Colombia (Photo: the Guardian)
Police have seized over 12 tonnes of cocaine from Colombia’s top crime gang, the biggest haul ever in the nation’s long-running fight against drug trafficking, said President Juan Manuel Santos.

The cocaine was being stored underground on four farms in a banana-growing region of north-west Antioquia province, near Colombia’s border with Panama.

Santos estimated that the US market value of the haul was about $360 million, which would equate to an average street price of $60 per gram.

 “Thanks to a police operation with overseas intelligence, from friendly countries, the largest seizure in history was made,” Santos said at a police base where the cocaine was laid out in packages on display.

Santos linked the cocaine to the drug-trafficking gang known as the Gulf Clan, which has become one of the biggest threats to security since peace was signed in 2016 with Marxist-led Farc guerrillas.

The seizure came as the United States, Colombia’s staunchest ally in the fight against drug trafficking, raised concern over an increase in coca cultivation and as the government faces criticism from opposition lawmakers for allowing new crime gangs to fill the void left by the Farc.

Santos, who leaves office next year, has pledged to send 80,000 military and police to areas once controlled by the Farc, in an attempt to prevent new trafficking gangs from taking hold.

According to police, four were arrested during the three-day long operation leading to the drug seizure.

The United States has offered a reward of up to $5 million, for information leading to the capture or death of the Gulf Clan leader Dairo Antonio Usaga, known as Otoniel.

In addition to drugs, the gang deals in illegal mining and most if its estimated 1,500 members formerly served in the ranks of right-wing paramilitary groups.