Ecuador is known to be a transit country for cocaine trafficking due to its proximity to Colombia, one of the world’s largest producers of cocaine. The Ecuadorian authorities have seized so much cocaine, they are now turning it into construction material.
Despite efforts by the Ecuadorian government to combat drug trafficking, the country remains a major transit point for illegal drugs. Cocaine is typically transported through Ecuador by land, sea, and air. Production of cocaine itself is not a significant issue as there is limited coca cultivation.
The novel solution to transform the drug into concrete, actually means pulverising the seized bricks and mixing them with cement, sand, and other materials to create concrete platforms. “Our focus was that we took this process (encapsulation) and we did it big, perhaps out of desperation to make good on destroying the drugs,” says Edmundo Mera, undersecretary for Drug Control at Ecuador’s Interior Ministry.
“This procedure is cheaper, takes less time and doesn’t affect the environment,” said Ecuador’s Director of Anti-Drug Investigation, Pablo Ramirez, adding it also has helped authorities freeing some space at the police drug collection centres. According to Mera, cremation can only burn about 70 kilos of cocaine in an hour while encapsulation can destroy 1,500 kg per hour.
Ecuador has already destroyed nearly 350 tonnes of cocaine through this procedure and some 83 tonnes are still waiting to be encapsulated. As per statistics, in 2021 the quantity of seized drugs doubled from previous year to more than 210 tonnes, mostly cocaine.