Colombia’s armed forces seized 10 tonnes of cocaine on Tuesday, the largest shipment this year, and destroyed two drug labs during an anti-narcotics mission in the country’s southeast, according to Defense Minister Diego Molano.
The cocaine and labs, which belonged to the National Liberation Army (ELN), were discovered in a rural zone of the Samaniego municipality, which is located in Colombia’s Narino province near the border with Ecuador, according to Molano.
“This is the most significant blow in terms of cocaine seizures this year,” Molano said over the phone. “Ten tonnes would have resulted in more than $300 million for the ELN.”
Despite decades of fighting against drug trafficking, Colombia remains a top global producer of cocaine and faces constant pressure from the United States to lower the size of coca crops, the drug’s main ingredient, as well as production of cocaine.
Drug trafficking helps finance illegal armed groups in Colombia amid a long-running internal armed conflict, which has left more than 260,000 dead.
Aside from the ELN, ex-members of the demobilized FARC guerrillas who reject a 2016 peace deal are involved in drug trafficking, as well as criminal gangs, according to security sources.