3.7 tonnes of cocaine seized in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, April 1 (IANS/EFE) Cocaine weighing 3.7 tonnes destined for Europe, Africa, and Cuba was seized in Brazil Monday and 23 people were detained in this connection, authorities said.

They were detained at the port of Santos in what was said to be the largest anti-drug operation this year on the Sao Paulo state coastline, said Brazilian Federal Police, adding that 230,000 euros ($316,800) in cash, 10 vehicles, a boat, 19 handguns and two rifles were also seized.

The gang, in which several government officials were implicated, put the drug into backpacks and stowed them in containers being shipped to Europe, Africa and Cuba.

The officials, police said, acted without the knowledge of the owners of the cargoes or of the vessels.

So as not to arouse suspicion when the cargoes reached their destination, those now under arrest were breaking the security seals on containers, stowing the cocaine inside them, and sticking on new seals identical to the originals.