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Uruguayan officials seize 4 tons of cocaine valued at $1.3 billion

By
Christen McCurdy
Uruguayan officials have seized more than four tons of cocaine with a street value of $1.3 billion. This photo, released by the Uruguayan Ministry of the Interior, shows bricks of cocaine found during a raid of a ranch implicated in the investigation.
Uruguayan officials have seized more than four tons of cocaine with a street value of $1.3 billion. This photo, released by the Uruguayan Ministry of the Interior, shows bricks of cocaine found during a raid of a ranch implicated in the investigation.

Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Uruguay customs officials say they have seized more than four tons of cocaine, with an estimated value of $1.3 billion, at a seaport in Montevideo.

According to Uruguay customs officers, the drug was hidden in soy flour containers destined for Lome, the capital of Togo.

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Officials said scanners at the Montevideo port found "anomalies" in four containers, which were shipped by a company specializing in soy exports.

Customs director Jaime Borgiani said Friday that the exporting company is now under investigation.

Soy flour is also not widely consumed in Africa, and authorities believe as much as one-third of cocaine consumed in Europe is smuggled there via Africa.

Uruguay is increasingly used by cartels as a point of transport for cartels shipping drugs before they move on to Africa and Europe.

The seizure breaks a record set in November, when authorities found a container with 3.3 tons of cocaine, also in Montevideo. That container was en route to Cotonou in Benin via the Spanish island of Tenerife.

Customs director Jaime Borgiani told reporters that officials did not know exactly where the cocaine had originated, but that it had been loaded onto trucks Tuesday at a ranch 180 miles from Montevideo.

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Police raided the ranch and found an additional 1.65 tons of cocaine there. The ranch's owner, his son and two ranch workers were arrested.

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