11/06/2007

US congratulates Mexico on 'record' drug seizure

The Associated Press

MEXICO CITY, Mexico — President Bush called his Mexican counterpart Felipe Calderon on Monday to congratulate him for what Mexican authorities are calling the biggest single cocaine seizure ever: more than 26 tons found aboard a boat arriving from Colombia.

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza said in a news release that "President Bush recognizes the Calderon administration's dedication to working together with the United States in the mutual fight against organized crime and drug traffickers."

In a news conference Monday, Mexican officials said the cocaine probably belonged to Mexico's Pacific drug cartel, also known as the Sinaloa cartel.

"This is the biggest seizure of cocaine in one operation in all of history, and represents a world record," said Calderon's spokesman, Maximiliano Cortazar.

Mexican customs officials at the Pacific coast port of Manzanillo noticed shipping containers listed an improbable mix of contents for a ship leaving Colombia.

On Oct. 30, port officials and police searched the shipping containers with a special gamma-ray scanner and detected suspicious shapes inside. When they opened the containers, they found 21,116 wrapped packages of cocaine.

The U.S. Coast Guard in March seized more than 22 tons of cocaine off Panama's Pacific coast, described at the time as the world's largest-known drug seizure.

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