SANTIAGO – Chilean police said on Wednesday that an operation in the northern part of the country resulted in nine arrests and the seizure of 993 kg (2,187 lbs) of cocaine.
The action targeted a gang led by two Bolivian nationals – a mother and son – living near the city of Iquique.
The operation required one year of investigation by prosecutors and members of the police organized crime unit, the unit’s commander, Guillermo Galvez, told reporters.
The ringleaders frequently traveled to Bolivia to acquire the drug, which was smuggled into Chile through the Atacama region, where it was collected and later handed over to traffickers in the Chilean capital, police said.
“In total, five homes in the Alto Hospicio commune were searched, and the group maintains other properties, which are being investigated to see how they were obtained,” Galvez said.
The seized drug was valued at 15 billion pesos ($22 million) and police also seized 23 high-end SUVs, used to transport the narcotic, along with nearly $25,000 in cash.
Prosecutor Raul Arancibia said that the detainees could face at least five years in prison, but that term may be increased if other charges are confirmed, such as criminal conspiracy.
“We were primarily interested in the mother and son, who were the heads of this structure,” he said, adding that both have criminal records for drug offenses.