The amount of illegal drugs seized in Ecuador is so large that it does not fit in warehouses. Seeking a solution to this situation, the authorities decided to use the seized drugs together with cement mortar in construction.
The amount of smuggled drugs in the country last year, mostly cocaine, doubled in 2021 to exceed 210 tons. Speaking to Reuters, security officials announced that 27 police warehouses where the drugs were kept before they were destroyed were full and the furnaces used for incineration had exceeded their capacity.
For this reason, within the framework of a project supported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), cocaine packages were mixed with cement, sand and water together with other industrial wastes, using a method called “encapsulation” and used together with cement mortar in construction concrete production.
According to the UN office, as the mortar hardens, it reacts with other materials present, forming a very rigid structure that prevents cocaine from leaching into the soil or being recovered.
This material, which is used to form the concrete walls of a 15-meter-deep well, is envisaged to be used as a floor material in a facility whose name is kept secret for security reasons.
According to the authorities, a total of 350 tons of cocaine and coca paste, the raw material of cocaine, have been used in the well so far, confiscated in 2021 and 2022.
Ecuador’s Director of Drug Enforcement Investigation Pablo Ramirez states that it can take about 12 hours to burn a ton of cocaine, emphasizing that it takes less than three hours to encapsulate the same amount. Stating that they are still waiting for about 83 tons of cocaine to be encapsulated, the official adds that this helped to empty the drug collection depots.