More than 1.3 million tons of cocaine were seized from boats during three separate operations in the Caribbean Sea off Colombia, the national navy announced Thursday, and members of the crew of one suspicious vessels abandoned ship when they saw authorities approaching.
In total, the Colombian Navy and Air Force seized 1,342 kilograms of cocaine, worth an estimated $45 million on the international illegal market, officials said in a statement.
Authorities said the first operation was carried out near the island of Tintipán, off the country’s northern coast. Coast Guard units working with an Air Force aircraft “detected a suspicious vessel” in the area. After noticing authorities approaching, the crew members “fled the scene, leaving the boat abandoned,” the Navy said, without revealing whether the suspects were captured or managed to escape. Officials who boarded the ship said they found 21 packages containing 526 kilos of cocaine.
In a second operation in the Caribbean, navy and air units detected a motorboat traveling “at high speed” near the border with Venezuela. Authorities said they seized 736 kilograms of cocaine, divided into 22 bags. Two Dominican citizens who were part of the boat’s crew were arrested.
In a third operation, coast guard and naval units intercepted a boat sailing suspiciously near the border with Panama. Two crew members were arrested after 79 kilograms of cocaine were found on board.
The Colombian Navy aerial video released showing two of the seizures.
“These seizures directly affect the criminal organizations serving international drug trafficking, their capacity for coercion against the civilian population and more than 45 million dollars which will not enter their criminal coffers,” the military said in a press release.
In addition to classic speedboats, semi-submersibles orare popular among drug traffickers in Colombia because they can potentially escape detection by authorities. Ships never submerge completely underwater, and they are sometimes in Colombian waters towards the United States, Central America and Europe.
Colombia produces approximately 60% of the cocaine found in the world. A report released in September by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found that potential coca production in the country had increased by 24% since 2021.
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