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Colombia seizes tons of cocaine near Panama

Colombian authorities have made the "biggest seizure of drugs in history," according to President Juan Manuel Santos. Security forces discovered eight tons of cocaine in a hideaway under a banana plantation.

The seized narcotics have an estimated value of $240 million (212 million euros), officials said Sunday.

Colombian authorities found the drugs near the border with Panama, in an underground hideaway at a banana plantation. Three people were arrested during the raid.

President Juan Manuel Santos congratulated the police in a post on Twitter, calling it a "crushing blow against criminals."

The military also published photos showing individual packages of seized cocaine.

Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said the cocaine belonged to the notorious Clan Usuga gang, also known as Los Urabenos. The cartel is considered the most powerful crime organization in Colombia, recruiting mainly members of right-wing paramilitary groups.

The US has offered a $5 million reward for help capturing the gang's leader.

For decades, Colombia has been struggling to

rein in the illegal drug trade

on its soil. According to UN data, the South American country produces some 442 tons of cocaine every year.

The authorities managed to seize some 252 tons in 2015.

dj/cmk (dpa, Reuters)

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