Incautan en Colombia 12 toneladas de cocaína

BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) — Colombian authorities seized $300 million worth of cocaine that far-right paramilitaries had stashed on a jungle riverbank, the police said Friday, in their biggest drug bust in five years.
Police and the Navy confiscated 12 tons of cocaine hidden on the banks of the River Mira, near the Pacific Ocean port of Tumaco in southern Colombia, in an operation lasting several days that ended early Friday.
With a street value of about $25,000 per kilogram (2.2 pounds) in the United States, where police think the drugs were headed, the cocaine would sell for a total of about $300 million.
«This is the biggest seizure in the country in the last five years,» the head of Colombia’s judicial police, Col. Oscar Naranjo, told Reuters.
The drugs belonged to members of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, an outlawed far-right militia known by its Spanish initials AUC that has killed thousands of people in its brutal campaign against Marxist rebels, Naranjo said.
The seizure came just as the U.S. Congress debates a Bush administration request for $600 million in aid money for Colombia’s anti-cocaine effort.
Some congressmen have complained that there is no evidence showing the amount of cocaine on U.S. streets has declined despite more than $3 billion in assistance to Colombia since 2000.
Armed agents made five arrests and seized nine assault rifles, communications equipment and eight boats in the operation.
Working with the United States, Colombian authorities have significantly increased seizures in recent years, and confiscated 148 tons of cocaine last year.
The lawlessness caused by a four-decade-long guerrilla war has helped make Colombia the world’s largest producer of the drug, with the U.S. government estimating the country’s criminals produced about 430 tons in 2004.
But this is down from about 700 tons in 2001, thanks to a U.S.-backed program of spraying illegal coca crops.
Critics of the program point out that U.S. street prices for cocaine have hardly budged over the period, indicating that just as much is probably flowing into the country as ever.
Both the AUC and Marxist rebels draw on cocaine money to buy weapons in a conflict that claims thousands of lives a year. But, while they are bloody rivals on the battlefield, the AUC often cooperates with the rebels in the drug trade.
The paramilitaries probably bought the cocaine found on the River Mira from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Naranjo said.

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