Ecuador’s customs service is stepping up enforcement efforts on the country’s highways. Customs says that 70% of smuggled goods come in over the Colombian and Peruvian borders, most of it going by car or truck to Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca.
In the Cuenca area, customs officials say they will set up inspection stops next week on the Cuenca – Machala highway, southwest of Santa Isabel, and on the Pan American highway between Cuenca and Azogues. Customs said that beginning next week it will not announce inspection locations.
According to Boris Coellar, Ecuador customs district director, his officers have seized more than $7.5 million in illegal goods in Azuay Province so far this year. Last year’s seizures totaled $2.5 million. The most popular items smuggled into the country, he said, are clothing and liquor.
In February, an article in the Quito newspaper El Comercio quoted an unnamed customs official that customs seizes less than 10% of smuggled goods. “The borders with Peru and Colombia are porous, with many small roads and trails, so we are able to capture very little,” he said. He also said that more than 50% of foreign-produced liquor consumed in Ecuador is illegal. “There is large underground network that distributes liquor,” he added.