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Page last updated at 11:57 GMT, Wednesday, 22 October 2008 12:57 UK

Colombia hails end of drugs ring

People work to uproot coca crops - file photo from Sep 2008
Eradication of coca crops forms part of the fight against drugs

Colombian officials say a global drug-trafficking ring that stretched from South America to Asia has been smashed after two years of police work.

Since July 2006, 111 people suspected of working for Colombian cartels and paramilitaries have been in the country and overseas, officials say.

Among those detained in Colombia were three men suspected of channelling funds to Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas.

The South American country is the world's biggest producer of cocaine.

A statement from the attorney general's office said the international police operation, codenamed Titan, had been under way for more than two years.

Its aim was to break up a drug-trafficking and money-laundering ring that operated globally, from Colombia to the US, Canada, Europe and the Middle East.

"The criminal organisation used routes through Venezuela, Panama, Guatemala, the Middle East and Europe, bringing in cash from the sale of these substances via different means of money-laundering," the statement said.

Ninety people were detained overseas, while raids in the cities of Bogota, Cali, Medellin and Pereira led to 21 further arrests.

Among those arrested in were three men who the authorities say used front companies to send money back to their home countries in the Middle East.

The funds were for the "alleged financing of terrorist groups like Hezbollah", the attorney-general's office said.

Colombia remains the world's top cocaine producer despite US aid to tackle the illegal drugs crop.

Since 2000, Washington has spent some $5bn (3bn) training Colombian forces and providing equipment and intelligence to combat drug-traffickers and eliminate coca crops.




SEE ALSO
Country profile: Colombia
19 Jul 08 |  Country profiles
Quick guide: Colombian conflict
03 Nov 06 |  Americas

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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Al Jazeera Colombia links arrests to Hezbollah - 25 hrs ago
Lebanon Daily Star Colombian 'drug smugglers' accused of financing Hizbullah - 30 hrs ago
Sydney Morning Herald Cocaine ring 'gave profits to Hezbollah' - 40 hrs ago
Los Angeles Times Colombian cocaine ring linked to Hezbollah - 50 hrs ago
Washington PostColombia says smashes drug ring with Hezbollah ties - 54 hrs ago
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