Page last updated at 04:54 GMT, Wednesday, 14 October 2009 05:54 UK

Mexico drug yacht crew burn boat


Four alleged traffickers jump from their speed boat

The US navy has released footage showing the dramatic reaction of a crew of a luxury yacht smuggling drugs when it realised it had been discovered.

The Mexican-flagged vessel was intercepted by the US navy some 700km (435 miles) off the Mexican coast.

The crew began hurling bundles of cocaine overboard, set fire to the boat and then jumped into the sea.

The Mexican navy managed to recover some of the drugs packages, seizing a total of about half a tonne of cocaine.

Four men have been arrested by Mexican authorities and face drugs-related charges.

The BBC's Stephen Gibbs, in Mexico City, says the incident illustrates the Mexican government's tougher stance on drugs and its closer collaboration with US authorities.

The US is providing some $1.4bn to help Mexico's counter-narcotics efforts under a three-year programme that began in 2007 to help the Mexican police and army tackle the cartels that supply much of the illegal drugs in the US.

Since late 2006, some 45,000 soldiers have been deployed to take on the drug gangs.

Bitter turf battles between the cartels and fights between the gangs and security forces have left more than 10,000 dead.

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