Colombia’s police seized 12 tonnes of cocaine worth a massive £275 million in the largest single drugs bust the country has ever seen.
The drugs were being stored underground and were discovered when around 400 anti-narcotics police stormed four banana plantations in the north of the country, close to the routes used to smuggle cocaine to the US.
Police have estimated the huge haul as being worth around £275 million with US market value estimated at $360m.
And the packages would break down into 11m hits of one gram each which would equate to $660m or just over £500 at an average street price of around £45 per gram.
Officers claim the drugs belonged to Colombia’s most-wanted man, Dario Antonio Usuga – the chief of the country’s largest drug-trafficking gang, the Gulf Clan.
He told reporters: “Never before, since we began more than 40 years ago to fight against drug trafficking, have we made a seizure of this magnitude.
Thanks to a police operation with overseas intelligence, from friendly countries, the largest seizure in history was made.”
And he added the seizure meant that police hauls of drugs in the year to date, 362 tons, had already surpassed the 317 tons seized in 2016.
The operation is part of an offensive against the powerful Gulf Clan, a drug trafficking gang which emerged from the remnants of right-wing paramilitary groups that demobilised in 2006
Security forces have been trying to capture Usuga, who is also known by the alias Otoniel, for years.
Police have arrested four people in connection with the drugs haul but are still searching for Otoniel – who in September told the government he wanted to turn himself in after the US offered a reward of up to $5m for information leading to his capture or death.
The government says more than 1,500 members of the gang have been arrested this year and its second-in-command has been killed.
The Gulf Clan is thought to account for 70 per cent of Colombia’s cocaine production.
The country is producing more cocaine than ever before, according to the United Nations, which is helping Colombia trying to curb its decades-old cocaine exports.
In 2016, coca farmers in Colombia grew enough coca to produce more than 850 tons of cocaine.
And In the last two months the security forces have seized 20 tonnes of cocaine in Antioquia.
The bust comes just days after the country signed a £230 million agreement with the UN aimed at reducing its production of cocaine.
President Santos, who leaves office next year, has pledged to send 80,000 military and police to areas once controlled by guerrilla forces in a bid to prevent new trafficking gangs from taking hold.