The Ecuadorian Ministry of the Interior said counter-narcotics police found the drug in a container on a ship that stopped at Puerto Bolívar, El Oro province, having first departed from Guayaquil.
While drugs are often found in shipments of Ecuadorian bananas, it is rare that they are discovered in a consignment destined for New Zealand.
The inspection was made after one of the crew members informed the captain of the ship that unknown persons had access to the site where the containers were placed, the article reported.
“Supposedly, after handcuffing the crew member who made the case known, the strangers proceeded to contaminate with 298 packages, brick type, one of the containers that was on the deck of the ship, which was destined for New Zealand,” the Ministry was quoted as saying.
With the help of dogs from the anti-narcotics unit, the police inspected each of the seals placed in the containers until it was determined that the safety of one, belonging to a fruit export company, had been altered and they found the alkaloid there.
He added that in the operation, called ‘Blue Star’, prosecutor René Ormaza of the Aquatic Crime Unit intervened and that the alkaloid blocks had the logos of two multinationals that produce technological equipment.
“The case is being investigated, until we determine the details of how the contamination was carried out, which could have been in the quarantine area, as the area near the Maritime Port of Guayaquil is known,” one of the police officers was quoted as saying.