Peruvian authorities say they have seized 2.3 tonnes of cocaine disguised as ceramic tiles destined for Turkey via a growing maritime route for illicit drugs.
The drug bust took place on Friday at a warehouse at Peru’s biggest port, El Callao, just outside the capital Lima, police said in a statement on Monday.
“This is the first incident that we know of [in which the cargo was in] Peruvian ports and its final destination was Turkey. Usually, we are aware of ports in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and France,” said El Callao’s police chief, Colonel Luis Angel Bolanos.
At a press conference on Monday, police displayed the cocaine, which had been fixed to rubber sheets to appear as hundreds of ceramic tiles packed in wooden boxes inside a shipping container.
Bolanos said the seized cocaine was valued at “at least $20m”.
The Andean nation seized a record 86.4 tonnes of drugs and illicit substances last year, 28 tonnes of which were cocaine hydrochloride, police data shows.
Peru and nearby Colombia are among the top global producers of cocaine and of the coca leaf it is made of, according to the United Nations.
Production in Peru has been mostly growing along the border with Brazil in the Ucayali region, where coca leaf crops have almost sextupled in size in two years to 10,229 hectares (25,276 acres) in 2021, according to Peruvian authorities.
Police say the drug bust happened at a warehouse at Peru’s biggest port El Callao.