Ivory Coast security forces have seized just over 1 tonne of cocaine in a night operation in a northern district of the commercial capital Abidjan, the West African nation’s gendarmerie said on Thursday.
Major drug hauls in Ivory Coast are rare and the latest find is more than double the size of the previous record seizure, when 411 kilograms of cocaine were retrieved from a boat in Ivorian waters last year.
The gendarmerie did not give further details about Wednesday’s bust, but a police source said the cocaine originated in Paraguay and was worth 25 billion CFA francs ($46.7 million).
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the illegal narcotics trade but drug kingpins have responded by packing larger loads of cocaine into the fewer container ships and commercial airplanes in circulation, officials say.
In the last few years several large cocaine seizures have been made along the West African Atlantic Coast, a frequent stopping point for South American cocaine heading to Europe. About 40 tonnes pass through the region annually, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
In January, Gambian authorities seized nearly 3 tonnes of cocaine from a shipment of industrial salt originating in Ecuador. About 9.5 tonnes were seized in the island archipelago of Cape Verde in 2019 – one of the biggest hauls ever.