TEGUCIGALPA -- Honduran authorities reported on Monday the discovery of more than 1.6 million coca leaf bushes in the most important seizure of its kind ever as Honduras struggles to combat drug production.
"This is a historic seizure. We have dealt a heavy blow to these criminal drug trafficking organizations," said Armed Forces spokesman Lieutenant Jose Coello.
Officials from the Central American country told reporters that the bushes, used to make cocaine, were discovered after a three-day operation over the weekend. They were located in 42 blocks in at least four plantations in mountainous areas in the coastal department of Colon.
The action brings total seizures so far this year to 2,625,015 bushes, up significantly from the 424,900 bushes found by local authorities in 2020 and 531,826 bushes found in 2021, according to security forces statistics.
"The entire government defense and security structure is working to prevent us from truly becoming a cocaine-producing country," Deputy Defense Minister Colonel Elias Melgar said in a government statement.
Honduras has been seen for more than two decades as a transfer zone for cocaine as it passes through Central America from South America to Mexico and the United States, the main consumer of the drug, say researchers.
In April, former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was extradited to the United States on drug charges.