From officials raiding Pablo Escobar’s complex in 1984 to 23 tonnes uncovered in Germany in 2021, the illegal drug trade is booming
The seizure of nearly 3,000 kg of heroin by officials at Gujarat’s Mundra port has once again thrown light on the drug racketeering business.
Officials on Tuesday said they seized 2,988.21 kg heroin worth Rs 15,000 crore from two containers at the Mundra port in Gujarat’s Kutch district and subsequently arrested a couple that runs an import firm from Chennai.
Here’s a list of some of the other seizures across the globe have been so large that they have made it into the headlines.
‘Europe’s biggest haul’ — 2021
In February of this year, German investigators uncovered a total of 23 tonnes of cocaine in a record haul of the drug in Europe.
The drugs that were destined for the Netherlands, were found in shipping containers that had arrived in the port of Hamburg. Police in the Netherlands were notified and a further 7.2 tonnes of cocaine was seized at the Belgian port of Antwerp.
Hamburg customs official Rene Matschke was quoted as telling AFP then, “We are estimating a street sales value of between €1.5 billion and €3.5 billion ($1.8bn and $4.2bn) for the 16 tonnes.”
Toronto’s largest-ever drug bust — 2021
The police in Canada’s Toronto seized 1,000 kg of drugs — its largest-ever seizure — which is worth 61 million Canadian dollars ($49.49 million) in June 2021. The drugs were seized as the police took down an international smuggling ring and arrested 20 people.
The smuggling ring was busted after a six-month-long investigation, codenamed “Project Brisa”. The seizure included cocaine, crystal meth and pot which, according to media reports, was being transferred between Mexico, California and Canada in modified tractor-trailers.
Operation Crystal Shield — 2020
In October 2020, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced one of the largest drug busts in history. Operation Crystal Shield involved 893 pounds of cocaine, 13 pounds of heroin, and around 2,224 pounds (1 tonne) of methamphetamine, making it the biggest meth bust in US history.
The operation involved around 80 investigators from nine different cities. The investigation began when agents began investigating a drug trafficking organisation involved with the Sinaloa Cartel.
Colombia’s ‘largest ever’ drug bust — 2016
On 16 May 2016, Colombian police intercepted more than eight tonnes of cocaine in what they claimed to be the country’s largest seizure ever.
The drugs were discovered inside an underground hole located on a banana farm in the Caribbean town of Turbo, about 300 miles from Bogota, the country’s capital, according to police.
Then Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Twitter the seizure was the largest in the country’s history and a “major blow to criminals.”
Authorities said the drugs were bound for the United States.
Afghanistan’s 2008 hashish bust
On 11 June, 2008, Afghan counter-narcotics agents discovered 260 tonnes of hashish, worth $260 million, buried in six-foot-deep trenches.
A spokesperson from Nato’s International Security Assistance Force said that the hashish weighed as much as 30 double-decker London buses and was burned on site.
1991 Long Island Cocaine Drug Bust
In 1991, a scene out of a movie took place involving a boat, plane and helicopter chase, which resulted in the confiscation of 5 tonnes of cocaine on Long Island, worth $861 million. The drugs were from the Cali Cartel in Mexico, dealing them a major blow, no pun intended.
Australia’s big haul of 2014
In November of 2014, Australian authorities seized approximately 2.8 tonnes of illegal drugs inside of a shipping container. The container, from Germany, housed 1,917 kg of MDMA and 849 kg of crystal meth. The score, valued at $1.5 billion, was the largest seizure of methamphetamines in the nation’s history.
Tranquilandia – 1984
No drug bust list would be complete without a Pablo Escobar appearance.
On 10 March 1984, Colombian national police, along with the US DEA, raided Escobar’s Tranquilandia complex, located deep in the unkempt jungles of Colombia and housed 19 laboratories dedicated solely to the manufacturing of cocaine.
The bust resulted in a confiscation of 10 tonnes of cocaine, which was worth around $1.2 billion at the time.
With inputs from agencies
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