Algeria seized more than 127 metric tons of hashish coming in from Morocco in the first eight months of 2013, authorities announced October 2.
Some 12,500 suspected traffickers were arrested and large quantities of various psychotropic pills were also confiscated in raids. Algeria officially closed its border with the conservative kingdom to the west in 1994, citing political tensions and the flow of contraband, but the trade obviously flourishes, with subsidized Algerian fuel smuggled into Morocco in a dope-for-oil deal.
In 2012, more than 157 tons of cannabis were seized in Algeria, compared with 53 in 2011. The explosion has prompted Algiers to beef up security on its western frontier, reports the Lebanon Daily Star.
On the same day that Algeria made its announcement, Spanish customs officers uncovered 18 tons of hashish in the Andalusian seaport of Almeria -- the largest haul in the history of the city, which is a major entrepôt for Morocco's finest. Seven crewmen of Syrian origin were arrested on the merchant ship Moon Light, where the mega-stash was found. The bales of hashish were determined to have been loaded on Morocco's Atlantic coast. Custom officers followed the ship by air after it crossed the Strait of Gibraltar, and vessels were dispatched to intercept it.
This April also saw two super-sized hashish hauls for Spanish police. A new European record was set when when 52 tons were seized in an industrial warehouse in the southern city of Córdoba. Days later, 32 tons were found in a truck carrying melons from Morocco outside the same city.
Moroccan customs authorities just days after that said they incinerated close to 10 tons of chira (hashish) seized in two busts in Casablanca, both of commercial trucks ultimately bound for Belgium. The product was divided into 10-kilo packages and hidden in hundreds of boxes. The Royal Gendarmerie was called in to oversee the ritual burning.
Morocco continues to be the world leader in cannabis production, with an annual harvest of more than 44,000 metric tons by United Nations estimates.