A massive cache of cocaine covered in Nazi symbols has been seized by police in Peru.
Cops found a whopping 57 kilos of the class-A drug in the port of Paita, department of Piura on Wednesday, May 24.
The cocaine, with an estimated street value of up to $6.8million, had been packed in bricks sealed with the name "Hitler" and had been marked with dozens of swastika symbols, police and local military sources said.
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Photos released by the Peruvian National Police show two agents, one on a ladder, wearing gloves and helmets as they appear to be searching a large shipping container.
In front of them lies 50 tightly packed cocaine-filled packages, most of them featuring the notorious Nazi symbol.
In one image an official holds one of the packages that's been opened up, showing it has the name of the infamous Nazi leader imprinted onto it.
According to the latest data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the average street price of a gram of cocaine in the US is $120, meaning 57 kilos could be worth as much as $6.8m.
Mass seizure of cocaine isn't uncommon in Peru, according to the Global Organized Crime Index the country is the second-largest producer of the drug — falling only behind Columbia.
A 2022 report by Peru's National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs revealed the country's cocaine production has been on the rise and has played a large role in fueling a cocaine boom across the globe, InSight Crime reports.
According to the report, cultivation of coca — the plant used to produce cocaine — has expanded in Peru from 61,777 hectares in 2020 to a record-breaking 80,681 hectares in 2021.
Coca is traditionally grown in the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM) — with the region accounting for 40% of the country's coca production and crops in the area increased by another 15% from 2020 to 2021.
As well as growing coca, the VRAEM is also the country's biggest producer of the final cocaine product.
According to the Global Organized Crime Index, production is largely controlled by small family clans who work alongside Serbian, Mexican and Colombian mafias as well as corrupt officials to smuggle cocaine across international borders.
With local consumption of the drug being "very limited" most of it is shipped through Mexico to the US market or through Brazil for the European market, while other shipments are sent directly to Oceania and Japan.
Despite the Peruvian government pledging to fight against drug trafficking, the 2022 report also showed that efforts to forcibly remove coca plants have fallen since the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2019, Peru’s government eradicated 25,526 hectares of coca but in 2020, this had dropped drastically to 6,273 hectares and in 2021 it plummeted again by nearly 500 hectares.
But while coca growing has been on the rise, police have been seizing increasing amounts of cocaine across the country.
According to InSight Crime, authorities seized 28 tons of cocaine hydrochloride last year, marking a 50% increase compared to 2021.
On top of this, they also seized another 28 tons of coca base.
It's unknown why Wednesday's seizure was covered in Nazi symbols but it's not the first time Nazis have been linked to the drug.
According to German author Norman Ohler, Adolf Hitler was a heavy cocaine user — having been prescribed cocaine over 50 times by his doctor during his time as leader of the Nazi party.
The author also claims that Hitler and other Nazi officials regularly used drugs including cocaine, heroin and meth throughout the Third Reich.
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