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Portugal makes record cocaine seizure off Azores

Portuguese police have seized 1.15 tonnes of cocaine hidden on a boat near Faial island in the Azores, in the biggest seizure of its kind in the archipelago, authorities said Friday.

The police also reported the arrest of five men aged from 29 to 54, who were due to be brought before a judge.

“It is the largest seizure of cocaine ever in the Azores,” police said, without specifying the men’s nationalities.

The operation was part of “a major effort to detect, fight and dismantle organised criminal groups that are bringing cocaine into Europe”, the police said.

Portugal frequently sees drug seizures, as traffickers use the country’s long coastline as a maritime gateway into Europe.

On October 16, police in the south of the country seized 600 kilos (1,322 pounds) of cocaine on board a boat, and arrested two Ukrainian presumed traffickers.

In October 2010, the police seized two tonnes of cocaine that had arrived by boat and was then hidden in a warehouse on the outskirts of Lisbon.

In November 2005, also in the Lisbon area, police seized 6.1 tonnes of cocaine, the country’s record. Six Frenchmen and a Colombian were arrested.