PAZ, Bolivia, Bolivian police seized more than seven tons of cocaine with an estimated street value of $350 million they believe was headed to the United States.
The cocaine was hidden in a cargo shipment of mineral ore being carried within a truck along a remote mountain that leads into a Chile’s sea ports. Police arrested three men.
“Minister of Government Carlos Romero reports the most significant blow against drug trafficking,” Bolivia’s government ministry said in a statement released Monday. “The Special Force to Combat Drug Trafficking seized 7.5 tons of drugs, three are detained.”
Bolivia is the world’s third largest producer of cocaine, following Colombia and Peru. Bolivian President Evo Morales has often clashed with the United States over the drug trade.
In one of his harshest criticisms, he accused the United States of perpetuating drug trafficking and of “economic terrorism” in December 2014. He said the war on drugs is a geopolitical tactic used in the region against popular leaders to destabilize governments against the will of the country’s people.
“They are not interested in ending drug trafficking, but with [ending] our farmers, our people,” Morales said, adding that “drug trafficking seems like the big business of the capitalist system,” Morales said. “[The U.S.] is a very developed country, with a lot of technology and the one who consumes the most drugs.”
Bolivia has been in a dispute with the United States since 2006 about cultivation of the coca plant, which is used by indigenous populations of Bolivia but is also the main ingredient in cocaine.