Cuba seized 1.644 tons of drugs in the first half of 2012, registering the largest amount of drugs netted over a six-month period in the past eight years, an Interior Ministry official said Thursday.
Speaking at the 11th International Meeting on Criminal Sciences, which concluded Thursday, Yoandry Gonzalez, chief of the Department of Operational Cooperation of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR), said the cache of drugs was composed mainly of marijuana and a small amount of hashish.
The amount is "the highest in the past 8 years," said Gonzalez, adding anti-narcotics operations were carried out in conjunction with the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) Customs Office of the Republic.
Most seizures in Cuba take place along the coasts, since drugs are often shipped by boat and thrown overboard by traffickers when they fear being found. Packages of drugs are sometimes also dropped into the sea north of Cuba by low-flying small aircraft, which are to be picked up later by speed boats headed to US shores.
"In 2011 and the first half of 2012, authorities detected an increase in international (drug) trafficking from Jamaica to the Bahamas, destined for the United States, the world's largest drug consumer," Gonzalez told participants at the meeting.
Some 22 anti-narcotics operations at Cuban airports over the same period led to the arrest of 27 people, and the seizure of 23.33 kilos of cocaine and 8.25 kilos of marijuana.
According to Gonzalez, among the most common methods used to smuggle drugs into the country are hiding them in women's footwear or inside candles, toiletries, food and bicycles, and by swallowing them.
Gonzalez attributed the rise in drug trafficking primarily to the high value of illicit drugs in Cuba.
Increased drugs smuggling is "spurred by the high prices of drugs in the domestic market -- much higher than in other countries in the region -- and the interest of foreign traffickers and Cubans living abroad to explore potential new markets after the saturation of traditional ones," he explained.
Despite the rise in trafficking, however, "there has been no change in the internal situation in terms of drug consumption," he added.
Cuba is not a producer or consumer of illicit drugs, but it is located along the main trafficking route from South America to the United States, he said.