Italy seizes ton of cocaine from Brazil ship

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Italian police seized a ton of pure cocaine worth up to 250 million euros (340 million dollars) on Monday in a container unloaded off a merchant ship coming from Brazil, in a joint inquiry with British police.

"This is the biggest cocaine seizure in Italy in the last 15 years," Salvatore Cagnazzo, the commander in charge of the investigation, told AFP.

The cocaine, with an estimated value of between 200 million and 250 million euros, was found hidden inside four tractors unloaded from the Italian ship in the port of Gioia Tauro in southern Italy.

"Our suspicions were raised when we discovered that the Brazilians were travelling with irregular documents," Cagnazzo said.

No arrests have been made, he added.

"We tracked down the machinery with the help of SOCA," he said, referring to Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency. "When we put it through the scanners we discovered the drugs stashed in the metal tubes."

The cocaine was destined not only for the Italian market but also for central and northern Europe, police said.

© 2010 AFP

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