Colombian police are claiming the biggest cocaine bust in the country's history, following the seizure of more than 8 tons of the stimulant at a banana plantation in the municipality of Turbo. "Operation in Turbo seized the largest quality of drugs in history," Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Sunday. "Crushing blow to criminals."
The historic haul, discovered in an underground hiding spot at the plantation, boasts an estimated value of $240 million. Three people were arrested during the bust, NBC News reports. The cocaine, which was headed to the U.S., reportedly belonged to the Clan Usuga criminal organization. According to a March report from the Department of Justice, Clan Usuga (formerly known as Los Urabeños) is the "largest and most influential" criminal group in Colombia.
Colombia remains a consistently prominent source of smuggled cocaine, according to a 2015 report from the U.S. Department of State. More than 90 percent of cocaine seizures in the United States in 2013 came from Colombia, a trend officials deemed "consistent" with previous years.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, upon visiting the Colombian National Police Counter-Narcotics Directorate in July of last year, praised the country’s commitment to halting drug-related violence with the continued assistance of the U.S. "This is a very impressive display of Colombia's commitment to try to make a difference in this effort," Kerry told reporters. "We all know it's a very difficult one. And I particularly want to express our gratitude to those police officers, those members of the military also, who have been wounded or have sacrificed their lives in the effort to try to make the world safe from narcotics traffickers, criminals and terrorists."
The Colombian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to Complex's request for comment.