10 Gigantic Drug Busts

UPDATE: Virginia decriminalized simple possession of marijuana on July 1, 2020. Click here for details.

The War on Drugs has been raging for years. But are drugs actually being seized? You bet!

Let’s look at some huge drug busts.

1,080 pounds of heroine

Yep, you read that right. Over half a ton of heroine was seized in a San Francisco drug bust in 1991. Authorities estimated the total value of the bust to be between $2.7 billion to $4 billion. That’s a lot of drugs!

4.8 tons of ecstasy

Australian officials made the world’s largest seizure of ecstasy in 2007. The drugs were hidden in 3,000 tins of tomatoes that were being imported from Italy. The drugs were worth £197m.

5 tons of cocaine

In 1999, the U.S. Coast Guard stopped a freighter on its way to Texas from Brazil for an inspection. The second Coast Guard boarding party became suspicious of foot prints in the ship’s load of iron ore, causing a more thorough search of the ship. The bust totaled almost five tons of cocaine.

Columbian cocaine

Columbian authorities accomplished a huge bust in 2005. They seized 13.8 tons of cocaine from the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. Along with the drugs, authorities also made five arrests, took five assault rifles, and seized eight boats. The drugs were believed to be headed to the United States.

The operation was touted by the Columbians as the largest single seizure in a single day. As we will see, this is far from the biggest drug bust.

14 tons of cocaine

The Columbian government raided Pablo Escobar’s cocaine lab in 1984. (Our DEA pointed the Columbians in the right direction.) The lab, called Tranquilandia, had its own air strip and army to guard it.

When the raid was done, the total cocaine seizure amounted to 14 tons.

19 tons of cocaine

If you don’t think 14 tons of drugs is gigantic, how about 19 tons?

In 2007, the U.S. Coast Guard busted a boat in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Panama. The 330-foot boat was heading North with its load.

At the time of the bust, this was the largest sea-based seizure of cocaine by the United States.

27 tons of cocaine

The Columbians made their country’s biggest ever drug seizure in 2007. They unearthed 27 tons of cocaine buried on the Pacific coast near the town of Pizarro. The total value of the drugs was more than $500 million.

Operation Imperial Emperor

While not a single bust, the U.S. Justice Department concluded an enormous drug operation in 2007. Dubbed “Operation Imperial Emperor,” the 20-month operation targeted the drug ring led by Victor Emilio Cazares-Gastellum.

Seizures included more than 27,000 pounds of marijuana, over 9,500 pounds of cocaine, 700 pounds of meth, and $45.2 million.

92 tons of opium

In May of this year, NATO and Afghanistan forces seized 92 tons of opium. Opium is exported from the region and turned into heroine, providing insurgent and terrorist groups with much of their income.

260 tons of hashish

Yes, that 260 tons! That’s how much hashish was seized in Southern Afghanistan during a bust in 2008. The drugs were found stored in trenches and bunkers. There were so many drugs that two airplanes were called in to destroy the bunkers and drugs from the air.

By all accounts I could find, this is the largest known drug bust to date. Who can argue with 260 tons?!

Andrew Flusche

My name is Andrew Flusche. I am a traffic and misdemeanor defense lawyer in Virginia. I limit my practice to traffic tickets and misdemeanor defense, so I know the ins and outs of these offenses. I literally wrote the book on reckless driving in Virginia which you can get on Amazon here or download for free here. I opened my practice in 2008 after earning my Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Since then, I have earned over 600 5-star reviews from happy clients on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Your initial consultation is always free, and you'll talk directly with me about the details of your case.

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