Authorities in Ivory Coast have seized a record haul of more than two tonnes of pure cocaine, with a street value of about 41 billion CFA francs ($67.7 million).
The cocaine was seized from traffickers this month in a police operation that took place in the commercial capital Abidjan and the port city of San Pedro, the interior ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
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Nine people, including Ivorians and foreign nationals, have been arrested and investigations are under way.
Major drug hauls in Ivory Coast are rare and the latest find is double the size of the previous record seizure in February when just more than one tonne of cocaine was retrieved in a night operation in the northern district of Abidjan.
Large cocaine seizures have become increasingly common along the West African Atlantic Coast, a frequent stopping point for South American drugs heading to Europe.
About 40 tonnes pass through the region annually, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the country’s current political division and the absence of sufficient government control in its northern region are making drug trafficking, as well as that of people and natural resources, more prevalent.
Ethnic and regional rivalries have lingered in the country, one of West Africa’s largest economies.
In the last two years, three of its neighbours – Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso – have succumbed to instability and experienced military takeovers as the region experienced a rush of leaders trying to extend their time in office.
Incumbent Alassane Ouattara first became Ivory Coast president in 2011, but critics say he violated the constitution when he ran for a third term in 2020.