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Paraguay police seize record $500 mln cocaine haul hidden in charcoal

Paraguayan police said on Tuesday that they had seized a record 2.3 tons of cocaine at a private port near Asunción, with a market value of around $500 million, hidden in a charcoal shipment destined for Israel.

ASUNCION, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Paraguayan police said on Tuesday that they had seized a record 2.3 tons of cocaine at a private port near Asunción, with a market value of around $500 million, hidden in a charcoal shipment destined for Israel.

The anti-narcotics unit in charge of the operation reported that the total amount of drugs seized in the Terport de Villeta port, some 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the Paraguayan capital, was 2,327 kilos.

The authorities said that the cocaine was hidden in a shipment of six charcoal containers that were to be shipped to Israel. "The drugs were in one of the containers, in 4-kilo bags," Commissioner Osvaldo Ávalos told reporters.

The police arrested two people identified as responsible for planning the export and the prosecution identified one of them as a former director of the state television channel.

The seizure is the largest cocaine bust in Paraguay, considered a transit country for drug trafficking to Europe and other destinations. It surpassed a 2.2-ton seizure that took place in the northern department of Concepción in early 2019.

(Reporting by Daniela Desantis; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editingteve Orlofsky)

((adam.jourdan@thomsonreuters.com; +54 1155446882; Reuters Messaging: adam.jourdan.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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