Page last updated at 23:31 GMT, Monday, 6 July 2009 00:31 UK

Bolivia raids 'huge cocaine lab'


Bolivia is the world's third largest cocaine producer

Drug enforcement officials have raided what they call the biggest cocaine laboratory ever found in Bolivia.

The facility, said to have the capacity to produce up to 100kg (220lb) each day, was discovered in a rural area of the department of Santa Cruz.

The government described the raid as the most important success against drug traffickers for a long time.

A senior Bolivian anti-narcotics officer, Oscar Nina, said five Colombians were arrested.

The factory is the fourth major facility of its kind to be discovered so far in 2009, Bolivian authorities say.

They say that in all cases a number of Colombian nationals were arrested, accused of working in association with local groups of Bolivian drugs traffickers.

Bolivian Interior Minister Alfredo Rada said it appeared the factories had been operating for about a year.

He accused US anti-narcotics agents of having failed to detect them.

Tension with US

Bolivia suspended the activities of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) within its borders in November 2008, after accusing US officials of conspiring against the left-wing government of President Evo Morales.

Last week. the US confirmed that it would cut trade benefits for Bolivia, and re-impose some import duties on Bolivian goods.

Washington alleged that senior Bolivian officials were encouraging the production of coca, the raw material that is used to make cocaine.

Bolivian President Evo Morales accused US President Barack Obama of slander and lies over the decision.

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