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Page last updated at 22:39 GMT, Friday, 27 February 2009

Spanish seize huge cocaine haul

Dona Fortuna before being boarded
Five Venezuelan crew members were arrested when the ship was held

A Venezuelan fishing boat has been seized in the Atlantic Ocean with five tonnes of cocaine on board, Spanish customs officials have said.

The drug shipment is thought to have a street value of 250m euros (221m). Five Venezuelan crew members were held.

The Dona Fortuna was boarded about 780 nautical miles (1,444km) north-east of the Canary Islands on Thursday.

Spanish police also impounded a speedboat on the country's north coast on suspicion it was involved.

Drugs report

The high-speed boat, which was loaded with gasoline, was intercepted near a village on the sparsely-populated coast of Galicia, a favoured entry point for cocaine smugglers bringing the drug into Europe.

Customs officials believed the boat was about to rendezvous with the Dona Fortuna.

The seizure came as the US released a report warning that drug trafficking posed a significant threat to US national security.

It said as many as 6,000 people had died in drug violence last year - and that more than 1,000 had already died in 2009.

It also said the amount of cocaine trafficked by Venezuelan cartels had jumped fivefold between 2002 and 2007.

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