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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 13:07 GMT
Spain sets cocaine seizure record
Police seize drugs in Las Palmas
Spain's coastline and islands are targeted by drug smugglers
Spain seized record levels of cocaine in operations against the drugs trade last year, confiscating nearly 50 tonnes, officials say.

The haul, worth around 5.7bn euros (3.9bn; $6.9), was third only to Colombia and the US in 2005.

The government said most of the cocaine seized was on boats heading for the Spanish coastline, a major European gateway for drugs from Latin America.

Figures suggest a 400% rise in cocaine use among Spaniards in recent years.

The Spanish Interior Ministry said 2,000 people were arrested in 800 anti-drugs operations last year. The 46.6 tonnes of cocaine seized is 60% higher than in 2004 and a new Spanish record.

Hash haul

The BBC's Danny Wood in Madrid says consumption of the drug in Spain is alarmingly high.

Spaniards are among Europe's biggest consumers of cocaine - but cocaine is not the only drug where Spain tops the world rankings.

During 2005 Spanish police also seized 646.7 tonnes of hashish - half the world total.

And police are continually coming up against more expert traffickers.

Among the British members of a drugs gang recently cracked by Spanish police were an ex-marine, an ex-soldier and a former policeman.

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