Police Worried About Poppy Plantations in Ecuador
QUITO – Police are concerned about several poppy plantations that have been found in Ecuador’s Andean region, Ecuavisa television reported.
The size of the plantations of opium poppies, the raw material for heroin, discovered in Ecuador is small, compared to other countries, but police said they have found about 35,000 poppy plants this year hidden among corn and wheat fields in the central provinces of Cotopaxi and Bolivar.
Police gathered up and burned the plants, which peasants living near the fields said grew in the wild and were considered weeds by farmers.
One of the poppy fields, consisting of plants of a “better quality” than the wild variety, was found in Romerillo, a district in Cotopaxi, police said.
The field may have been used to produce poppy seeds, police said, adding that laboratories may have been established to produce heroin in Ecuador.
The head of the National Police’s drug enforcement unit, Joel Loaiza, said investigators had not confirmed the existence of heroin labs in the country.
“We want to rule out any type of theory having to do with the organizations that are doing this,” Loaiza said.
The poppy plantations found in different operations this year covered only three hectares (7.4 acres) in total land area, police said.
A prosecutor in Bolivar, meanwhile, said an extensive investigation was underway to determine “if we are dealing with plantings done on purpose” or wild plants.