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Brazilian police crack international drug gang
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12:07, August 21, 2007

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Brazil's federal police on Monday carried out a simultaneous operation in five states to crack an international drug ring.

The police said law enforcement units in Uruguay, Bolivia, France, Spain, Argentina, Paraguay, Britain and the Netherlands also participated in the operation, which took place in the Brazilian states of Bahia, Sao Paulo, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul and Ceara.

Gustavo Duran Bautista, leader of the criminal organization, was arrested in Uruguay on Saturday, along with four Colombians and two Brazilian suspects.

According to the police, the suspects were captured as they transported about half a ton of cocaine in the municipality of Salto, 500 km from Uruguay's capital Montevideo.

In Brazil, Bautista owned a company that imports and exports fruits in the states of Ceara and Rio Grande do Norte. The police said drugs were ferried in hidden compartments to the European countries, such as the Netherlands, and that the money returned through Paraguay to Brazil, where it was laundered.

Authorities seized a small plane and a helicopter allegedly used to transport the drugs and large amounts of cash that were hidden inside Bautista's luxurious house in Sao Paulo.

The Police are also investigating ties between the gang and Colombia's drug giant -- the Norte del Valle Cartel, whose leader Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia was arrested on Aug. 7 in Sao Paulo.

Source: Xinhua

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