Cocaine seized from plane in Sierra Leone

Freetown - Sierra Leone made its biggest catch of cocaine on Sunday when it seized 700kg of the drug on a plane which landed at Lungi International Airport, a senior official said.

Impoverished West Africa, with its unguarded coastline and sparsely populated interior, has become an important trafficking route for Latin American drug runners into lucrative European markets.

"It's the biggest catch ever, we weighed the stuff and it is about 700kg," assistant inspector general in charge of crime services Francis Munu told reporters.

"It's worth around 35 million dollars in street value in New York, according to a UNODC estimate," Munu said, referring to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Munu also said that the police found five automatic rifles and 350 rounds of ammunition on the plane.

Information Minister Ibrahim Kargbo said both members of the plane's crew had fled.

Colombian cocaine cartels started shipping the drug through West Africa a few years ago because their direct routes to United States and European markets were being blocked by anti-narcotics agencies.


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