More Than $1 Billion of Cocaine Seized by Uruguay, Officials Say


Uruguay's Navy

Uruguay's Navy

In what's being described as "the largest seizure in the history of Uruguay," officials have intercepted more than four tons of cocaine with an estimated street value of nearly $1.3 billion Friday at a seaport in the country's capital city of Montevideo.

More than 4.4 tons of pure cocaine was seized at the port, Uruguay Customs Director James Borgiani told reporters at a press conference. Another 1.5 tons of cocaine was later intercepted on a nearby ranch, bringing the total up to 6.6 tons, the BBC reported.

Officials became suspicious after four transport containers listed as containing soy flour was flagged with "anomalies" in some of the scanned images taken during a security check at the Port of Montevideo, according to the outlet. Officials opened one of the containers and discovered more than 3,000 bricks of cocaine. Borgiani said the drugs were in containers believed to be bound for the West African country of Togo.

The other containers are now being inspected, however, due to some "complexity," there's no word on when all the containers could be checked. If the other containers have similar amounts of cocaine, it could increase the amount up to 15-tons. A second container which has already "produced positive results" is now being inspected.

Borgiani said the seizures marked an important moment for authorities to demonstrate how effective they can be at catching drug smugglers.

"The important thing is to show the world and drug traffickers that you don't mess around with Uruguayan customs," said Borgiani. "We've taken the necessary steps to rid the country of this scourge."

The drugs were reportedly packed in Nueva Palmira - which is located along Uruguay's border with Argentina.

Photo: Unidad de Comunicación del Ministerio del Interior - República Oriental del Uruguay, Getty Images