WORLD – ECUADOR
The huge amount of drugs seized in Ecuador has led to the discovery of an unexpected building material for the South American country – cocaine, Reuters reports. According to police, the amount of drugs seized in Ecuador in 2021 has almost doubled compared to 2020, amounting to more than 210 tons. The bulk of the illicit substances are cocaine.
Although the volume of seizures in 2022 has fallen slightly, it is still quite high and exceeds the amount of space available in the 27 police warehouses designed to store it.
The record amount of cocaine also exceeds the capacity of the ovens normally used to burn it, Edmundo Mera, undersecretary for drug control at Ecuador’s Ministry of the Interior, told Reuters.
Cocaine as a construction material
Using the so-called encapsulation method, it was decided to crush the seized cocaine briquettes at the recycling plant along with other rubbish and then mix the resulting fine powder with cement, sand and water to create concrete platforms.
Today, hundreds of blocks of cocaine hydrochloride and coca paste seized across Ecuador arrive weekly at a recycling plant on the outskirts of the capital Quito, where they are recycled along with glass, expired medicines and even oil waste.
According to Pablo Ramírez, director of Ecuador’s anti-drug department, it takes about 12 hours to incinerate a tonne of cocaine, while it takes less than three hours to encapsulate the same amount.
“This procedure helps free up police drug collection centres, it is cheaper, takes less time and has no impact on the environment,” said the police officer.