Uruguay Seizes $1.3 Billion of Cocaine in Nation’s Biggest Bust Ever
The first country to nationally legalize weed just prevented nearly 6 tons of coke from flooding its ports.
Published on January 3, 2020

Customs officers in Uruguay seized a record 6 tons of cocaine last week during a routine check at a Montevideo port. With an estimated street value of $1.3 billion, it was the largest drug bust in the nation’s history.

Port authorities discovered the cocaine while scanning boxes labeled as soy products. The faux soy goods were destined for Africa — a place that doesn't actually consume much soy. The sheer quantity of soy going to Africa raised the suspicions of port officials, who know that Africa is a major hub for transporting coke from South America to Europe, the BBC reported. Western Europe is currently the world’s largest consumer of cocaine.

Last Saturday, four individuals were arrested in connection with the cocaine shipments. Although Uruguayan authorities are not entirely sure where the cocaine originated from, an ensuing investigation led police to a family-owned ranch near Soriano, located about 180 miles from Montevideo. Reports claimed that the cocaine found at the Montevideo port was loaded on trucks at this ranch. Two members of the ranch’s family were arrested along with two ranch workers.

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

2019 proved to be a record year for major drug busts worldwide. For instance, in June, US authorities seized $1 billion worth of cocaine, the largest in American history. In August, Germany made the biggest cocaine bust in its history, with a street value around $1 billion. 

Record seizures of other dangerous drugs occurred in 2019, too. In June, Australian cops blocked $840 million worth of meth from entering the Land Down Under via Thailand. In September, UK authorities busted a shipment of $155 million worth of heroin. As with the coke busts in Germany and the US last year, the Australian and UK seizures were the biggest in their respective nation’s histories.

If ever there was a time to cripple organized crime rings by decriminalizing all drugs, it’s now. 

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Randy Robinson
Based in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljay
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