Three days after the deadly crash of a Colombian bus east of Quito, investigators have discovered 637 kilos, or 1,400 pounds, of marijuana concealed under the passenger compartment floor. The cache was valued at $1.7 million.
The discovery was made by dogs during a routine sweep of the bus wreckage by a police canine unit.
Police counternarcotics director Carlos Alulema called the development “amazing and creepy” and said the discovery opens an entirely new investigation into the accident. “We thought we were dealing with a bus that had crossed the border without proper registration and with a driver using false documents,” he said. “Now, it appears we are looking at a major drug transaction,”
Following the announcement of the drug find, a Cali, Colombia radio station claimed that most of the passengers on what it calls the “bus de la muerte,” or death bus, were riding free, having been given a “free vacation.” The claim by Blu Radio has not been confirmed by Ecuadorian authorities.
Investigators say that 584 packages marijuana were concealed in four compartments directly below the bus floor.
The bus, which lacked registration to operate in Ecuador, crashed early Tuesday morning near Papallacta, killing 23 and injuring 22.