By Dialogo January 12, 2011 In the coastal province of Esmeraldas (on the border with Colombia), Ecuador seized around 1.5 tons of cocaine hydrochloride that was going to be transported to Mexico by sea, Col. Pablo Santos, the police commander in that jurisdiction, announced on 7 January. “By means of intelligence work carried out over several months, it was detected that there was unusual activity at a ranch that had no visible production of any kind,” Santos told the press. He added that “the merchandise was headed for Mexico.” At the general headquarters of the police in Quito, a source in the press department confirmed to AFP that “a large shipment of drugs was seized in Esmeraldas” by police and naval personnel. Santos indicated that the uniformed personnel detained five Ecuadoreans in the operation, which took place on 6 January in the Borbón area, in Esmeraldas. He noted that the operation, named “Laberinto” [“Labyrinth”], made it possible “to unravel a criminal organization that was dedicated to the stockpiling, possession, and international trafficking of drugs.” The officer said that the cocaine was pressed and distributed into around 1,300 brick-shaped packages, which were buried in four locations on a rural property situated among mangrove swamps. He specified that the drugs were stockpiled at the ranch and that the drug traffickers exported them using speedboats that transported them out to sea in order to transfer them to deeper-draft vessels. Police and military personnel even searched the area looking for a drug submarine. In July, the police reported the seizure in Esmeraldas of an almost-completed submarine under construction, capable of carrying up to twelve tons of cocaine and expected to make its first voyage to Mexico from the Ecuadorean coast. Ecuador confiscated a record 68 tons of drugs, including 64 tons of cocaine, in 2009, and seizures in 2010 amounted to around 18 tons, according to the police.