LA PAZ – The more than seven tons of cocaine chlorhydrate found by Bolivia’s anti-drug force in a shipment of ulexite that was being exported to Honduras and then was to have been shipped to the United States is valued at $379 million, authorities said on Monday.
The drug was packaged in large sacks and displayed on Monday at the police academy by Interior Minister Carlos Romero, who said that the total weight of the shipment was 7.58 tons (about 16,700 pounds).
“This shipment is said to have obtained an export license through Tambo Quemado ... for Honduras, where the value of these drugs would be more than $160 million, and for later shipment to the United States,” Romero said.
Meanwhile, the commander of the FELCN anti-drug trafficking force, Santiago Delgadillo, said that in the United States, a kilogram of chlorhydrate costs $50,000, and thus the confiscated shipment would have a value of about $379 million.
Initially, the Attorney General’s Office said on Saturday that the cocaine was hidden within a shipment of 22 tons of the mineral ulexite.
The drug was found in the town of Patacamaya, 109 kilometers (67 miles) from La Paz in a truck being driven to the town of Tambo Quemado, on the border with Chile, from where it was to have been shipped overseas.
Three Bolivians were arrested and searches were mounted in the cities of Santa Cruz and Cochabamba based on documentation found in the truck.
With this shipment, so far this year Bolivia’s anti-drug force has seized more than 22.5 tons of cocaine, exceeding in just seven months the total of 20.5 tons seized during all of 2015.
Bolivia, Colombia and Peru are the main producers of coca leaf and its illegal derivative, cocaine.
In Bolivia, the plant has traditional, medicinal and industrial uses and is protected under the Constitution, but a certain percentage of the total cocaine crop is also diverted by drug traffickers to produce cocaine.