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Ecuador: 21.5 tonnes of cocaine destroyed as country battles organised crime

Police in Ecuador have destroyed 21.5 tonnes (21,500kg) of cocaine, seized as part of the country's military-led crackdown on organised crime.

The huge haul was seized over the weekend, found in a storage space under a pig farm in the city of Vinces, in the west of Ecuador.

The drugs were found on Sunday stored in hundreds of blocks, officials said.

One person was arrested at the scene.

Authorities used a technique known as encapsulation to destroy the drug, pulverizing the seized blocks with waste before mixing the resulting fine powder with cement, sand and glass.

The method prevents cocaine from contaminating the environment or being recovered, authorities said.

Ecuador has become a centre for the storage and export of drugs, particularly cocaine, to markets in the US and Europe, its government has said.

President Daniel Noboa declared a 60-day state of emergency after one of the country's most notorious drug lords, Adolfo Macias - also known as Fito - escaped from prison.

A day later, an armed gang broke into a TV studio, TC Television, during a live broadcast and held staff at gunpoint.

Last week, Cesar Suarez, a prosecutor investigating the attack, was shot dead as he was driving to court in Guayaquil, the country's most dangerous city.

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He was shot multiple times, police said. They are treating his murder as an assassination.

Mr Noboa, the son of one of Ecuador's richest men, took office in November promising to stem a wave of drug-related violence on the streets and in prisons.