Banana shipment from Ecuador contained $330 million worth of cocaine

Screenshot of cocaine found on February 26, 2023, in the port of Guayaquil

Nearly 8.8 tonnes of cocaine were discovered by Ecuadorian police in a shipment of bananas headed for Belgium.

According to police chief Fausto Salinas, if the drugs had made it to their intended location, they would have cost about $330 million (£275 million).

One of the main countries for the transit of cocaine produced in Peru and Colombia's neighboring countries is Ecuador.

In the Andean nation last year, more than 200 tonnes of the drug were found, much of it in the port of Guayaquil.

Smugglers frequently attempt to conceal their illicit shipments among the fruit that is shipped from Guayaquil to locations all over the world because Ecuador is the world's largest exporter of bananas.

This most recent find was made inside a shipping container filled with banana cases headed for Belgium.

The seizure takes place at the same time that European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson and Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden are visiting Colombia and Ecuador, respectively.

The two officials want to increase collaboration in the war against drug trafficking with the two South American countries.

In recent years, Belgium has emerged as the nation within the European Union where the largest amounts of cocaine have been found, with the port of Antwerp serving as the primary entry point for the illicit drug.

Earlier this month, Alexis Gosdeel, the director of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, declared that the "growing flow of cocaine now threatens the entire European Union.".

He expressed deep concern, saying, "I am deeply concerned that the growing EU cocaine market is contributing to an increase in violence and corruption on public institutions and governance.".

In Ecuador, drug-related violence has increased dramatically as a result of strong Mexican cartels infiltrating local gangs to take over the lucrative industry.

Prisons are overcrowded, and fights between rival gangs inside have resulted in numerous fatalities.

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