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Guatemala Police Seize Cocaine in Airplane Shootout

Posted: Saturday, February 10, 2018 – 1:04 PM

(AFP) Guatemalan counternarcotics police on Saturday seized half a ton of cocaine, a small airplane and weapons, and arrested four suspects after a shootout, officials said.

The suspects, all Guatemalans, were arrested after the airplane landed near the town of El Estor, on the country’s Caribbean coast, 155 kilometers (95 miles) east of the capital, the Interior Ministry said.

The US-registered plane “arriving from the Venezuelan coastline” touched down at an illegal landing strip, a statement read.

Police spokesman Pablo Castillo told reporters that security forces also seized 476 kilograms (1,050 pounds) of cocaine, two pickup trucks, a hand grenade, four weapons and a satellite telephone in the operation.

Guatemala, like much of Central America, is a key transit point for narcotics — especially cocaine — moving from South America to Mexico and the United States.

In 2017, Guatemala seized 13.6 tonnes of cocaine in various operations, a new record, up from the 12.8 tonnes seized the previous year.

Earlier, police said that two Colombians and two Guatemalans, one of them an active duty army colonel, were arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking in Peten, on Guatemala’s northern border with Mexico.

The quartet was detained Thursday when they were surprised near a small airplane at an illegal landing strip near the town of Poptun.

hma/ch/oh

© Agence France-Presse

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