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Cops grab record cocaine haul hidden in tyres

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Cops grab record cocaine haul hidden in tyres
File photo: Valerie Everett
15:28 CET+01:00
French police said on Friday they had seized a record 1.4 tonnes of cocaine and four people had been arrested in a "severe blow" to an international drug trafficking chain.

French police sources said the drugs were seized on Wednesday at the northern port of Le Havre and were hidden in tyres on a cargo ship from Valparaiso in Chile. 

The drugs arrived at the northern port of Le Havre on Tuesday in a cargo ship from Valparaiso in Chile, officials said. The ship was loaded with vehicles returning from the Dakar 2014 rally, which ended in Valparaiso on January 18th. 

Lille prosecutor Frederic Fevre said the drugs, hidden inside a shipment of tyres, were then moved to a truck bound for Spain that was followed by police who had been alerted to the delivery by Bulgarian authorities.

The drugs were seized and two Spaniards arrested when the truck stopped by the side of the road in Saint-Amand-Montrond, a town in central France, Fevre said.

Police had earlier said the drugs had been seized on Wednesday at the port.

Two Bulgarians, believed to be organizers of the trafficking, were also arrested by local police in the eastern Varna province. More arrests were also expected in Spain.

Police said the seized cocaine had a street value of about €270 million ($370 million).

Interior Minister Manuel Valls hailed the international cooperation that led to the bust, which he said was "historic".

The previous record cocaine haul in France was the seizure in September of 1.3 tonnes of the drug, hidden in 30 suitcases, from an Air France flight from Venezuela.

More than 20 people, including an Air France employee in Caracas, were jailed in that case.Two Spaniards were arrested in France after the seizure, which came after a "long and thorough" investigation, police said.

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