YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—An Armenian law-enforcement agency on Wednesday claimed to have seized about one ton of cocaine one day after an even bigger consignment of the drug, allegedly bound for Armenia, was found in Italy.
The National Security Service (NSS) said the cocaine was discovered in boxes of fruit imported by an Armenian company from Ecuador via Panama, Italy and Georgia. In a statement, the NSS did not name that company or report any arrests in connection with the unprecedented find.
The statement also said that the drugs were found on Saturday. It did not explain why the NSS waited for four days before announcing the largest-ever cocaine seizure in Armenia.
The security service refused to comment further when contacted by RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
Armenia’s State Revenue Committee (SRC), which comprises the national customs service, also declined a comment. The SRC had made massive seizures of heroin smuggled from neighboring Iran in 2014, 2017 and 2021.
The NSS announcement came one day after police in Italy seized 2.7 tons of “extremely pure” cocaine which they said was destined for Armenia. The haul was found in refrigerated banana containers shipped to the southern Italian port of Gioia Tauro from Ecuador.
Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General said that it is looking into the Italian police report.
Opposition politicians and other critics of the Armenian government seized upon the report to again blame it for soaring drug trafficking and abuse in Armenia. The number of drug drug-related crimes recorded by the Armenian police nearly doubled last year.
It is not clear whether NSS investigators believe that the huge quantity of the cocaine seized by them was intended for the small Armenian market or whether Armenia was used as a transit point.
Economy Minister Vahan Kerobyan insisted that he does not know which Armenian food-importing company is accused of smuggled the drugs. “I know about this case as much as you do,” he told reporters.
“I can only say that we are very concerned about both these developments and the overall situation with drugs in Armenia,” the Hraparak daily quoted Kerobyan as saying.