BOGOTÁ – Colombian authorities have seized 12 tons of cocaine worth an estimated $360 million in the South American country’s largest-ever drug bust.
The record find has been linked to Colombia’s Gulf Clan, currently the most powerful cartel in the country.
Around 400 anti-narcotics officers seized the drugs in four simultaneous operations launched on farms across the country. The cocaine was discovered buried underground, covered in banana leaves.
Four people were reportedly arrested during the bust, which is result of a three-day operation by police charged with cracking down on the production of coca (the plant from which cocaine derives).
“Today, thanks to a police operation with overseas intelligence, the largest seizure in history was made,” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Wednesday.
“Never before, since we began fighting against drugs more than 40 years ago, have we had a seizure of this size,” he added, while surveying the haul in the Colombian town of Apartado.
The large haul comes as powerful drug gangs seek to fill the void left by guerrilla group FARC, which recently signed a peace deal with the government, ending a decades-long civil war.
The seizure comes as the United States and the United Nations have raised concerns over an increase in coca cultivation. Both say coca and cocaine production surged last year in Colombia.
Colombia is one of the world’s leading producers of cocaine, with output of around 910 tons per year, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Anti-drug police have confiscated 362 tons of cocaine this year.