Surfboards stuffed with cocaine bound for Europe seized in Uruguay

Uruguayan officials have said that the police have broken a drug ring which was smuggling cocaine hidden in surfboards. The cocaine was being smuggled from South America to Europe.

The officials said that the narcotics were seized after cooperative efforts by anti-drug police in Uruguay, Italy, Spain and Portugal. They said that so far, three Italian citizens have been arrested. Two of them were in Portugal and one in Italy.

“Operation Iris is unprecedented in our country because of the scope and significance of international cooperation,” National Police Director Jose Manuel Azambuya said in a conference in which authorities from other countries participated via video link.

The police said that sniffer dogs from an Uruguayan anti-drug unit signalled that there was something suspicious in a package with the six surfboards on May 23. Cocaine was found inside the surfboards.

Five of the surfboards were stuffed with a total of 90 pounds (40.6 kilograms) of cocaine. The sixth surfboard was allowed to pass through so that authorities in Europe could track who was receiving the narcotics.

Two people who went to pick up the package were arrested by Portuguese police. The package had transited through Spain on June 7. The remaining surfboard held about 20 pounds (9.3 kilos) of cocaine, police said.

In Italy, an Italian citizen who sent the surfboards from Uruguay was arrested in Italy on June 11. A police statement reportedly said that he is awaiting extradition to stand trial in Uruguay.

Uruguay, sandwiched between Argentina and Brazil, has become in recent years a major transit point for cocaine from Colombia and Peru bound for Europe.

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