Togo-bound $1b cocaine shipment seized

Cocaine haul in Montevideo

Seized cocaine

Cocaine haul in Montevideo meant for Togo

A record shipment of more than $1billion cocaine bound for Togo, near Nigeria, has been intercepted by Uruguayan authorities.

It was the largest shipment of drugs in the country’s history, the National Customs Directorate announced on Friday.

The director of the national customs, Jorge Borgiani, said at a press conference that at least 4,417 kilograms of cocaine was seized in the port of Montevideo.

He said that the drugs were disguised as soy flour and hidden across three shipping containers.

“There is still one more container left to open,” Borgiani said. The amount of cocaine counted from the first two containers alone is believed to be worth around 1.3 billion U.S. dollars.

The drugs discovery and seizure operation, jointly carried out by the National Customs Directorate and the National Naval Prefecture, occurred on Thursday afternoon.

The shipment containing the drugs was destined for the port city of Lome, the capital of Togo.

The Uruguayan Navy also stated that this operation will be “the biggest blow to drug trafficking in the history of the country.”

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Officials said scanners at the Montevideo port found “anomalies” in four containers, which were shipped by a company specializing in soy exports.

Customs director Jaime Borgiani said Friday that the exporting company is now under investigation.

Soy flour is also not widely consumed in Africa, and authorities believe as much as one-third of cocaine consumed in Europe is smuggled there via Africa.

Uruguay is increasingly used by cartels as a point of transport for cartels shipping drugs before they move on to Africa and Europe.

The seizure breaks a record set in November, when authorities found a container with 3.3 tons of cocaine, also in Montevideo. That container was en route to Cotonou in Benin via the Spanish island of Tenerife.

Customs director Jaime Borgiani told reporters that officials did not know exactly where the cocaine had originated, but that it had been loaded onto trucks Tuesday at a ranch 180 miles from Montevideo.

Police raided the ranch and found an additional 1.65 tons of cocaine there. The ranch’s owner, his son and two ranch workers were arrested.

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