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Saturday, April 24, 1999 Published at 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK

World: Europe

'Record' drugs haul in Spain

Some 330 kilos of heroin were seized in three early morning raids

By Madrid Correspondent Daniel Schweimler

Spanish police say they have smashed two international drug gangs and seized more than 300 kilos of heroin worth tens of millions of dollars - the biggest ever such haul in Europe.

Daniel Schweimler: Raids were launched early in the morning
The operation led to the arrest of 12 people from Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal and Venezuela.

Spanish police, heavily armed and using dogs, launched three raids in the early hours of the morning. Three trucks which had come from the Netherlands were seized near the northern city of Burgos.

[ image: Most of the heroin was found in a Madrid hideout]
Most of the heroin was found in a Madrid hideout
More than 200 kilos of heroin were found in Madrid and more drugs and a number of weapons were discovered near the town of Toledo, southwest of the capital.

A total of 330 kilos of heroin and a large amount of cocaine were seized. Police said the street value of the drugs ran into tens of millions of dollars.

Spain's Interior Minister, Jaime Mayor Oreja, praised the professionalism of the police operation and the co-operation with forces from other countries.

Spain, because of its proximity to North Africa, its close ties with countries such as Colombia and its long coastline which is difficult to police, has become an important transit point for international drug dealers.

Spanish police have had a number of successes in fighting them in recent weeks and they feel they have won a major victory with this latest operation.

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