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30 tons of drugs seized by Interpol in Caribbean, Central America

The international police agency Interpol has seized a 30-ton cache of cocaine, heroin and marijuana valued at $822 million (631 million euros). The operation took place in the Caribbean and Central America.

The Interpol-led "Operation Lionfish" targeted maritime drug and gun smugglers across two separate regions. It involved some 34 countries and territories, including 20 Caribbean nations.

Police arrested 142 people and seized 15 vessels, 42 firearms and approximately $170,000 in cash. The European police agency Europol supported the operation and said coordination units were based at Interpol's bureau in El Salvador and the command center of the French West Indies Coast Guard on the island of Martinique. Raids took place between May 27 and June 14.

"The operation was coordinated in response to growing evidence of the organized crime in the trafficking of drugs and firearms in the Central America and Caribbean regions due to its strategic location," Europol said in a press release Tuesday.

As well as the Caribbean and Central American countries, Britain, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States participated in the anti-smuggling operation. The World Customs Organization and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police also leant their support.

"Disrupting this activity is not only critical for the source and transit countries of these drugs and weapons, but also for the destination countries such as Canada," Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Bob Paulson said in a statement from Ottowa.

South American cocaine is typically smuggled to Europe in by sea in shipping containers, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes. The drug is often trafficked to North America from Colombia through Central America or Mexico by sea and then land.

dr/hc (AP, dpa, AFP)