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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 February 2006, 13:26 GMT
Portugal makes 'record' drug haul
By Alison Roberts
BBC News, Lisbon

Eight tonnes of cocaine seized by Portuguese police
The eight tonnes of cocaine are worth 280m euros ($333 million)
Portuguese police have made what they say is the largest ever single seizure of cocaine in Europe.

Eight-thousand kilograms (17,600 lbs) of unadulterated cocaine, split into more than 300 separate bundles, was discovered.

Most of the drug was at a warehouse in the southern Algarve region but some was in a lorry that was already transporting it north.

Seven Spanish citizens - six men and one woman - have been detained.

Portuguese police said they began their operation on Wednesday, in an attempt to break up a smuggling ring based in the Spanish province of Galicia.

More seizures

It has become increasingly clear in recent years that both Spain and Portugal are being used as the main entry points for smuggling drugs into Europe from South America.

Both the overall quantity and the average size of seizures have been increasing steadily.

Drugs are dropped off on islands or on the Iberian peninsula's long coast before being parcelled up and distributed by highly developed local rings.

Even before Friday's police operation, 5,000kg (11,000lbs) of cocaine had been seized in Portugal so far this year compared with some 15,000kg (33,000 lbs) for the whole of 2005.

Portuguese police chiefs heralded the latest seizure as evidence that they are honing their detection methods and getting to grips with the problem.


SEE ALSO:
Galicia drug runners test Spain
04 Aug 05 |  Europe
Spain seizes Mexico 'drug barons'
04 Aug 05 |  Americas
Country profile: Portugal
24 Jan 06 |  Country profiles



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