(Photo: Valle Virtual)

On Thursday, government forces in southern Colombia seized 5.5 tons of marijuana hidden in a shipment of maracuya (Colombian passion fruit).

The truck carrying the illegal shipment was stopped at a military checkpoint in the rural Santander de Quilichao municipality in the southern Colombian state of Cauca, according to a statement released by the Colombian Army.

This latest bust is one of many sizable seizures made this year. In the Cauca state alone, authorities confiscated nine tons of marijuana  in a single month this past summer.

MORE: Police seize 2 tons of marijuana in southwestern Colombia

A similar shipment seized in August carried a domestic street price of $1 million per ton, which experts say could triple if exported.

According to Omar Ruiz, the Army Colonel in charge of the most recent operation, the shipment belonged to the FARC rebel group’s “Jacobo Arenas Mobile Column.”

This group, active in southwest Colombia, has been linked to explosive caches uncovered in Cauca.

MORE: FARC explosives cache found in southwest Colombia

According to analysis website Insight Crime, a booming domestic market in Colombia has made marijuana a prime cash crop for the FARC, Colombia’s oldest and largest rebel organization.

The Ministry of Justice estimates that 640 tons of marijuana are consumed in Colombia each year and that 70% of Colombia’s marijuana production feeds this local demand.

Cauca in particular has become known for producing “cripi,” a more potent, more lucrative variety of marijuana.

Santander de Quilichao, Cauca

Sources

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