A drug bust in Arica, Chile, turned up more than $12 million worth of cocaine that was bound for Spain, Reuters reported on Friday.
Three suspected traffickers were arrested, two of whom are confirmed Spanish nationals.
According to officials cited by Reuters, the antinarcotics operation took place in the port city of Arica in northern Chile last Saturday.
The targeted drug gang was reportedly part of an international group of traffickers that was moving drugs from Colombia across South America to a final destination in Europe.
The three men who were arrested, the third of whom was a Colombian national, were detained on charges of possessing more than 632 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of over $12 million.
The arrested men will remain in custody while the police carry out a 60-day investigation of the case, after which the suspects are due to face trial.
While Europe — and Spain in particular — is a major destination for Latin American narcotics (especially cocaine), Chile has not been a major departure point for drugs going to the continent.
According to the 2016 EU Drug Trafficking Report from the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, South America’s major transshipment points are Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil. The report also notes that drugs are also moved from Ecuador and from the Southern Cone region, Argentina in particular.
Drugs are moved to Europe by both sea and air. Transport by sea is particularly important, as it allows traffickers to move significant quantities of drugs on both commercial and private vessels with relative discretion.