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More than $1B of cocaine seized in record haul, officials say

Posted at 5:27 PM, Dec 28, 2019

Uruguay Naval and Customs officers seized more than four tons of cocaine at a seaport in the capital Montevideo, with an estimated street value of nearly $1.3 billion, officials said.

The record haul was described as the biggest setback for traffickers in their country's history.

Uruguay Customs Director Jaime Borgiani told reporters at a press conference on Friday that 4.4 tons of pure cocaine had been seized from the port.

Local reports said another 1.5 tons was later found on a ranch, according to BBC, who first reported the news.

Four transport containers with soy flour had been flagged with ‘anomalies’ in scanned images during security checks in the Port of Montevideo, according to BBC.

One container was opened and inspected earlier this week, and was found to contain more than 3,000 bricks of cocaine.

If the three other containers are found to have similar content, it could increase the haul to a 15-ton seizure. The second container, which “produced positive results” is now being inspected, according to officials.

The process of opening the transport containers is said to involve some “complexity," the officials said, adding they could not give an exact time estimate of how soon all the containers could be checked.

Borgiani said the Customs Directorate is investigating the firm connected to the transportation of the drugs -- whose business largely involved the export of soybeans.

He added that the drug-filled containers had been packed in Nueva Palmira -- an area in Uruguay located on the border with Argentina.

The cocaine is believed to have been destined for the West African country of Togo, according to officials.

Uruguay is increasingly used by cartels as a key transport point for drugs being sent to Europe and Africa.