Uruguay intercepts a record 6 tonnes of cocaine destined to Africa

An army personnel stands guard while confiscated drugs burn inside a military base in Santo Domingo/FILE REUTERS/Ricardo Rojas
Naval and customs officers in Uruguay seized 4.4 tonnes of the drug in Montevideo port./AFP

Authorities in Uruguay say they have intercepted a record haul of 6 tonnes of cocaine, terming it the biggest setback for traffickers in the country’s history.

Naval and customs officers seized 4.4 tonnes of the drug in Montevideo port. It had been hidden in four soy flour containers destined for Lome, the capital of Togo.

Another 1.5 tonnes was later found on a ranch, local reports said.

The drugs have an estimated total street value of about $1.3bn (£1bn).

Uruguay is increasingly being used as a transit point to move drugs from Latin America to Africa and Europe.

The country’s previous record haul was in November, when authorities uncovered a container with three tonnes of cocaine, also in Montevideo, bound for Cotonou in Benin via the Spanish island of Tenerife.

The 4.4 tonnes found recently came to light when scanners at Montevideo’s port showed “anomalies” in the containers, officials said.

Suspicions had already been raised by the fact that the export firm had not transported much soya in the past, soya is not widely consumed in Africa and nearly a third of cocaine consumed in Europe is smuggled there via Africa, local media reported.


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