QUITO – Ecuadorian police discovered 4.3 tons of cocaine in a house on Quito’s north side, where earlier this week they reported finding another 3.8 tons of the alkaloid, the local press said Saturday.
The Police Department’s Fight against Organized Crime Unit, or ULCO, as part of an operation called “Anniversary,” discovered the new stash hidden behind a fake wall of the home, the daily Expreso said in its online edition.
On Wednesday, police said they found 3.8 tons of cocaine in the same house, hidden under fake flooring, and said that they suspected that the house was used by a drug-trafficking ring for storing the drug.
According to officials in charge of the operation, the suspected ring supposedly operated in Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, the United States and Spain, and had a laboratory for processing drugs, the biggest yet discovered in Ecuador.
The operation was carried out in the provinces of Sucumbios, Pichincha, Cotopaxi and Guayas. According to local media, five Ecuadorians and two Colombians were arrested.
The national chief of the police anti-narcotics squad, Joel Loayza, said that the drug “came from Colombia, was shipped by road (in Ecuador), to be stockpiled in storerooms under the cover of non-existent companies.
According to Loayza, the ring’s center of operations was set up in Quito, while in La Mana in Cotopaxi province south of the capital it operated a chemical-processing lab for drugs where it is estimated that about 5 tons of cocaine were produced each week.
In addition, on the road that goes from Lago Agrio, in the province of Sucumbios on the Colombian border, to Quito, the police intercepted a few days ago a truck with military emblems in which two people wearing Ecuadorian army uniforms were riding.
The army said that those in custody did not belong to the military, since one of them is retired and the other was discharged, and that the truck was not part of the army’s inventory.
Found hidden in that vehicle were 557 kilos (1,227 pounds) of the total amount of drug seized in different parts of the country, including the house on the north side of Quito.
The Ecuadorian police’s director of intelligence, Fabian Solano, said Wednesday that his unit is “verifying” the evidence to determine “to which cartel or to which organization these drugs belong.”