10 Of The Biggest Drug Busts Of All Time
The war on drugs is an ongoing effort, the men and women of the Drug Enforcement Agency are working around the clock to bring down the heavy hitters in the world of drug trafficking. In this video, we will look at some of the largest drug busts across the world to date. All dollar amounts have been adjusted to reflect today's value. It should be noted that this list is incomplete and just some of the largest drug busts.
The Fall of Rafael Munoz Talavera
This record breaking bust proved to be a massive win for the United State’s drug enforcement agency, pulling in 21 tonnes of cocaine. The load of cocaine was found in a warehouse at the base of the San Gabriel mountains in California and was operated by long-time drug kingpin Rafael Munoz Talavera. Though impressive, the 21 tonnes was small game compared to the massive haul of 77 tonnes that had been moving through the warehouse prior to the bust. The total amount of what was seized ranged upward of 13 billion dollars.
China White Heroin in San Fran
This televised bust of 1,059 lbs of China white heroin proved to be worth up to 4 billion dollars, but was only a mere 5% of the world’s yearly production. The heroine had just made the journey from Thailand to California’s Bay Area and was sitting in a warehouse in Hayward, CA when the bust was made. It lead to five arrests and shined some light on the investors of the Hayward warehouse, which included Nancy Pelosi, future Speaker of the House. The find was so notable that NBC News requested access to the warehouse, promising to keep a lid on the story if they could televise the haul.
The Fall of Tranquilandia
Even the greatest of drug kingpins must have their losses, and such is the case with Pablo Escobar and 14 tonnes of his cocaine. Escobar supplied the United States with over half of its cocaine supply, which easily put the trafficker in the DEA’s sights. Through satellite tracking devices hidden in the raw materials being transported to Escobar, the DEA was able to hunt down a large haul of cocaine at his secret jungle lab, Tranquilandia. Of course, the lab was shut down, but Escobar was able to continue operations for another 9 years until his death at the hands of the special Colombian police task force, the Search Bloc.
The Gatun Bust
Not all drug traffickers do everything they can to hide their haul from public eye. This 670 million dollar cocaine bust was “hidden” on the top deck of a Panamanian freighter, the Gatun. Rather than stashing the cocaine in secret compartments below the deck, this 20 ton load was simply placed in cargo containers easily accessible by the U.S. Coast Guard that boarded the vessel.
105 Tonnes of Homer Simpson Labeled Marijuana
What better way is there to smuggle 105 tonnes of marijuana than to label it with the patriarch of the Simpsons household with the caption “I’m going to get high, dude!” Nobody involved in trafficking this haul of marijuana saw any problem with it – that is maybe until local Mexican police got involved and came across this heavy stash of cannabis. A convoy of vehicles escorting a tractor trailer was intercepted by local police, leading to a shootout that ended in a $425 million bust.
Mira River Cocaine
In May of 2005, a Colombian police force and navy were able to retrieve a massive haul of 14 tonnes of cocaine from the River Mira banks in southern Colombia. The 415 million dollars worth of cocaine was owned and trafficked by the AUC, a Colombian paramilitary group responsible for the 1997 Mapiripan Massacre. Head of Colombia’s national police force, General Jorge Castro, went on record saying this was the largest haul seized “in the world in a single operation, in a single day, and in a single place.”
Taliban’s Haul of Hash
One of the largest hauls of hash ever found was property of Afghanistan’s Taliban forces and was used to fund their campaign against the west. The 260 tonnes of contraband was found hidden deep within southern Afghan trenches and had a worth of an estimated 375 million dollars. Taking such a massive amount away from Taliban forces, General David McKiernan, Nato commander in Afghanistan, would have “seriously crippled the Taliban’s ability to purchase weapons.” The haul was large enough to weigh the same as approximately 30 double-decker buses.
This 309 million dollar haul was the product of a year-long operation under the Australian Federal Police. The AFP followed a string of trails that lead them to this 4.4 ton load of ecstasy pills. The pills were being pushed via empty tomato cans being imported from Italy. Beyond the 15 million pills recovered, the AFP was also able to net themselves key players within the operation, starting from low-level freight haulers up to kingpin Pasquale Barbaro.
A Win for the War on Terror
In 2009, 92 tonnes of opium and 60 Afghani militants were killed by the United States military. Military troops withstood a four-day attack on the town of Marjah, considered a Taliban stronghold, and succeeded in severely crippling the insurgents supply. The province of Helmand, where the stronghold resides, accounts for 90% of Afghan’s global supply of opium, so this was no small victory against the War on Drugs. In 2002, the opium would have been worth a wholesale price of 276 million dollars, and 1.4 billion dollars retail.
The California-Mexico Underground Railroad
How foreign contraband finds its way into the United States has ranged from the bizarre to clever, but this one idea borderlines genius. Rather than trying to sneak drugs in and deal with customs, Mexican traffickers aimed to bring marijuana across the border underneath everybody’s noses – quite literally. An 1,800-foot or 548 meter long tunnel was excavated underneath Mexico and California, connecting the two without bringing any unwanted attention. The tunnel was stumbled upon when police followed a suspicious van and came across this underground passage. The final haul was 40 tonnes of marijuana, equaling and estimated 21.2 million dollars.