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Austrian police smash international drug ring

Dozens were arrested in a network that linked a drug trade between Africa and Europe. The round-up comes at the end of a three-year investigation by police.

Austrian police have busted an international drug ring, arresting 50 people and seizing large quantities of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and amphetamines.

"The whole organization is practically behind bars," said an unnamed police official in Vienna.

The arrests come after an investigation that stretched back at least three years. Viennese police said 10 suspected couriers were among those arrested. They added that some of the couriers had packaged the drugs and swallowed them as a means to smuggle them across borders.

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The poppy war

The network included links to the Netherlands, Nigeria and Cameroon, and included three organizers who were extradited to Austria from Holland.

Among those arrested, two have confessed to a bank robbery in Austria.

Police said they seized 17 kilograms (37.5 pounds) of cocaine, along with 4 kilograms of heroin, as well as 100,000 euros ($104,500) worth of marijuana and amphetamines.

Austrian authorities said the drug ring smuggled 56 kilograms of heroin and cocaine - with a street value of more than six million euros.

bik/kms (AP, dpa)

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