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  HOME | Latin America (Click here for more)

Cocaine Distribution Hub Dismantled in Paraguay

ASUNCION Anti-drug agents dismantled a complex in rural Paraguay that included cocaine labs, warehouses and a clandestine airstrip, authorities said Tuesday.

The operation, in which one Paraguayan and a one Brazilian were arrested, was carried out in a radius of about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) around a cattle ranch in the northeastern province of Concepcion, the Senad counternarcotics agency said.

During the raid, in which a helicopter was used, authorities discovered a clandestine airstrip used to receive and send shipments and drugs to neighboring Brazil, the statement said.

Senad personnel also found 178 kilos of cocaine and 380 kilos of marijuana hidden in a forested area located a little more than a kilometer (about 0.6 mile) from the main house on the property.

In the vicinity, the Senad patrol found hidden among the vegetation 112 aluminum molds, four aluminum pots and about 50 rolls of packaging material used to make the packets of the drug waterproof.

Agents also discovered seven jerrycans containing about 420 liters (111 gallons) of fuel.

They also confiscated from the arrested men a revolver and a shotgun.

In the lab, the drug traffickers turned large quantities of coca paste into cocaine, according to Senad.

The raided property was used by an organization under investigated by Senad for the past several months which devoted itself to providing illegal drugs to the Brazilian market.

To that end, the property was strategically located with only two land access routes and bordering on the Aquidaban River, the basin of which the drug traffickers used as a route by which to bring drugs in or to escape from potential police raids.

Paraguay is the main producer of marijuana in South America and has become part of the route along which Bolivian coca is refined into cocaine for sale in Brazil and other countries.

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