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Four arrested in $1.5 billion-plus cocaine seizure in Uruguay

Four people were arrested for possible ties to the more than $1.5 billion worth of cocaine seized in recent days in Uruguay, the largest drug bust in the history of the South American country.

A bag of cocaine

The arrests took place yesterday, news outlets reported. Authorities found 5.9 tonnes of cocaine, 4.4 tonnes of which was packed into cargo containers in the South Atlantic port of Montevideo, said Attorney General Enrique Rodríguez. Rodríguez did not say where the drug was headed. Multiple news outlets, without citing sources, reported it was destined for Africa.

The men accused of exporting the drug operate a soy bean business, the Uruguayan customs agency said. As officials investigated further, they discovered another cocaine stash of more than 1.3 kilogrammes at a rural property linked to the suspects.

Uruguay, a country of just 3.4 million inhabitants, has recently arrived on the world stage as a transit point for the international drug trade. In August, 4.6 tonnes of cocaine were confiscated in Hamburg, Germany, inside a container that had shipped from Montevideo. The customs director in Uruguay resigned shortly after.