More than 1.3 million tons of cocaine was seized from boats during three separate operations in the Caribbean Sea off Colombia, the country’s Navy said Thursday, and the crew members of one of the suspicious vessels abandoned ship when they saw authorities closing in.
In total, the Colombian Navy and air force seized 1,342 kilograms of cocaine that would be valued at $45 million on the international illegal market, officials said in a news release.
Authorities said the first operation was carried out near Tintipán Island off the country’s north coast. Units from the coast guard working with an Air Force plane “detected a suspicious vessel” in the area. After noticing the authorities approaching, the crew members “fled the scene, leaving the boat abandoned,” the Navy said, without disclosing whether the suspects were captured or managed to escape. Officials who boarded the vessel said they found 21 packages containing 526 kilos of cocaine.
During a second operation in the Caribbean, marine and air force units detected a motor boat moving “at high speeds” near the border with Venezuela. Officials said they seized 736 kilograms of cocaine, divided into 22 bags. Two Dominican citizens who crewed the boat were arrested.
In a third operation, coast guard and naval units intercepted a boat that was sailing suspiciously near the border with Panama. Two crewmembers were arrested after 79 kilograms of cocaine was found on board.
The Colombia Navy released aerial video showing two of the seizures.
“These seizures directly affect the criminal organizations at the service of international narcotics trafficking, their capacity for coercion against the civilian population and more than 45 million dollars that will not enter their criminal coffers,” the military said in a statement.
In addition to regular speedboats, semi-submersibles, orare popular among drug traffickers in Colombia as they can potentially elude detection by authorities. The vessels never go fully underwater, and they are sometimes in Colombian waters while heading to the United States, Central America and Europe.
Colombia produces about 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 risen by 24% since 2021.
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