Military and police authorities from more than 40 countries across Europe and the Americas confiscated 145.3 tonnes of cocaine in the eighth phase of Operation Orion, a multinational naval operation against drug trafficking, Colombia’s navy said on Monday. Since Operation Orion was launched in 2018, the combined effort has seized more than 545 tonnes of cocaine and 224 tonnes of marijuana, according to Colombia’s navy. The figure represents the highest amount of cocaine seized during the operation so far.
Some 575 people of different nationalities were captured during the campaign, which ran between October and November, Colombia’s navy said, adding that 49 vessels were immobilized, as well as six submarines and three planes. Despite decades of fighting drug trafficking, Colombia remains a top global producer of cocaine and faces constant pressure from the United States to reduce coca crops, the drug’s main ingredient, as well as production of cocaine.
Drugs are connected to the violent cartels of South America, Central America, and Mexico. Argentina, Belize, France and Suriname, among others, took part in the eighth phase of Operation Orion.
“Operation Orion is an excellent example of regional cooperation in countering the threats of transnational criminal organizations; every iteration of this operation continues to improve, bringing in more partner nations and incorporating our law enforcement colleagues,” U.S. Navy Admiral Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, told the press. “Partnerships and alliances are the best way to disrupt and deter transnational criminal organizations in conducting these illicit activities. We look forward to continuing this important collaboration.”