QUITO, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- The 31st meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies in Latin America and the Caribbean (HONLEA) opened Tuesday here, to exchange experiences and strategies in the fight against drug trafficking and related crimes.
Ecuador's Interior Minister Juan Zapata and Foreign Affairs Minister Gustavo Manrique inaugurated the event, which gathered high-level regional anti-drug officials and observers from European countries and organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme and the International Police.
"It is important for Quito to host the 31st HONLEA meeting, where delegations from all over the world join forces to combat organized crime. It strengthens the importance of information exchange and technical roundtables," Zapata said at a press conference.
The meeting "will discuss and promote different mechanisms to address the global drug problem from a regional perspective," he added.
Fighting a wave of violence brought by organized crime linked to drug trafficking, Ecuador established a national drug observatory to combat drug use, and a scientific laboratory to identify substances and their derivatives, said Zapata.
Ecuador seized more than 521 tons of drugs in just two years of the current government, marking "a historical milestone in the frontal combat against drug trafficking and a great impact on its illegal economies," he said.
Ecuador ranks third worldwide in drug seizures, only behind Colombia and the United States, according to the minister.