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Sunday, 3 December, 2000, 23:56 GMT
Colombia anti-drugs victory
choppers
The US has backed Colombia's anti-drugs drive
The Colombian police say they have broken up six drug smuggling organisations, in an international operation lead by Colombia.

Police arrested 240 people and seized 340 tonnes of chemical substances that were intended for the production of cocaine and heroin.

Fourteen clandestine laboratories were also destroyed in the operation which involved Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Venezuela and the United States Drug Enforcement Agency.

lab
A drugs lab goes up in smoke as anti-drugs operations continue
The head of Colombia's Antinarcotics police, General Gustavo Socha, said that the seizure had also led to information on a further 32 organisations linked to drugs trafficking.

The chemical substances seized could be enough to produce "100 billion doses" of cocaine and heroin.

Earlier this year the US approved a $1.3bn aid package as part of Plan Colombia, an international push to help Colombia fight its drug war.

Colombia is the world's leading producer of cocaine and exports 90% of its annual 520-tonne production to the United States.

Guerrilla link

Plan Colombia drew criticism from Democratic senator Paul Wellstone last week who fears that coca production will be driven into the ranks of anti-government guerrillas.

colombia
Opponents of Plan Colombia fear rebel guerrillas will become involved in drugs production
He is also concerned that US President Bill Clinton authorised delivery of the aid even though the Colombian Government has not met all the human rights conditions set by Congress.

Colombian President Andres Pastrana already faces US accusations of deepening guerrilla involvement in the drug trade.

The claims follow the arrest of a Colombian doctor accused of acting as a go-between for drug traffickers and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Mexican authorities said last week they had arrested Dr Carlos Ariel Charry Guzman, accused of co-ordinating drug and arms shipments between the FARC and the Arellano Felix gang, considered Mexico's most violent criminal organisation.

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See also:

12 Nov 00 | Media reports
Colombia drugs link to Peru scandal
17 Oct 00 | Americas
Cardoso warns against drug 'war'
07 Sep 00 | Americas
Drug submarine found in Colombia
23 Jun 00 | Americas
US funds anti-drugs war
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