Peru police seize $20 million of cocaine headed for Turkey

·1 min read

LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian authorities said Monday they seized 2.3 tonnes of cocaine disguised as ceramic tiles destined for Turkey via a growing maritime route for illicit drugs.

The drug bust happened Friday at a warehouse at Peru's biggest port, El Callao, just outside the capital Lima, police said.

"This is the first incident that we know of (in which the cargo was in) Peruvian ports and its final destination was Turkey. Usually we are aware of ports in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and France," said El Callao's police chief, Colonel Luis Angel Bolanos.

At a press conference Monday, police displayed the cocaine, which had been fixed to rubber sheets to appear as hundreds of ceramic tiles packed in wooden boxes inside a shipping container.

Bolanos said the seized cocaine was valued at "at least $20 million."

The Andean nation seized a record 86.4 tonnes of drugs and illicit substances last year, 28 tonnes of which were cocaine hydrochloride, police data shows.

Peru and nearby Colombia are among the top global producers of cocaine and of the coca leaf it is made of, according to the United Nations.

(Reporting by Anthony Marina and Alfredo Galarza; Writing by Brendan O'Boyle; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)