Anti-narcotics police in Ecuador have seized 656.7 kilogrammes of cocaine concealed in a shipping container carrying bananas headed for Tunisia.
According to the police, the drugs were dispersed among ten jute bags in the form of 660 brick-type packages, with an estimated value of $42 million.
The head of the Latin American country's police, Fausto Buenano Castillo, told the media the discovery was part of an anti-drugs trafficking operation dubbed "Vispera".
Police in Tunisia meanwhile announced today an investigation is underway into the transportation and importation of the drugs.
Houssem Eddine Jebabli, spokesperson of the General Direction of the National Guard, told local radio station Shems FM that the criminal affairs branch of the National Guard in Ben Arous city will be heading the probe. Jebabli added that the National Guard will also be working in cooperation with the Ecuadorian police through Interpol for the investigation.
Tunisia has one of the strictest anti-drug laws in the world. In November last year, the Tunis court of first instance sentenced four young men to 20 years in prison over forming a drug trafficking network in the capital, with a $35,000 fine imposed on each.
Despite not being home to powerful cartels as in Mexico and Colombia, Ecuador is one of the world's main cocaine trade routes, with over a third of Colombia's cocaine flowing through the country to the rest of the world. In October, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency to combat drug trafficking and other crimes in the country, stating in a national broadcast at the time that "there is only one enemy: drug trafficking", which he argued was a root cause of an increase in homicides, burglaries, theft and robberies.