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IPFS News Link • Building and Construction Materials

Ecuador turns surfeit of seized cocaine into concrete

• By Yury Garcia

Under President Guillermo Lasso, a conservative ex-banker, Ecuador has ramped up efforts to fight gangs who use the country as a transit point for shipping cocaine to the United States and Europe.

The amount of drugs seized in Ecuador almost doubled in 2021 versus the previous year to more than 210 tonnes, mostly cocaine, according to the country's police.

Though seizures in 2022 dropped slightly, they remained high and quantities exceed the available space at 27 police warehouses where the drug is kept before being destroyed, officials said.

The record amounts also exceed the capacity of the ovens normally used for incineration, Edmundo Mera, undersecretary for Drug Control at Ecuador's Interior Ministry, told Reuters.

Now the country is using some of the excess cocaine in construction materials.

Using the so-called encapsulation method, with support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Ecuador pulverizes seized bricks of cocaine in industrial machines with other refuse at a waste disposal plant before mixing the resulting fine powder with cement, sand and water to create concrete platforms.