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France-UK probe led to record Azores cocaine haul: Paris

Paris: The Portuguese police who seized a record 1.2 tonnes of cocaine on a yacht in the Azores this week were acting on a tipoff from French and British investigators, the French government said today.

Wednesday night’s find on a US-flagged boat in a port on Faial island was the biggest of its kind in the archipelago, according to Portuguese authorities.

Four Serbians and a German aged between 29 and 54 were arrested in connection with the haul.

The French finance ministry said the operation was the result of a joint investigation between French customs and Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) “targeting a Serbian criminal group suspected of trafficking cocaine between the Caribbean and Europe.”

The drugs, which have an estimated street value of more than 70 million euros (USD 77 million), were found in four hiding places in the centre of the vessel, the French statement added.

The cooperation between French customs and the NCA already led to the discovery of more than two tonnes of cocaine on a tug off the coast of Scotland in April.

Drug hauls are common aboard boats arriving in Portuguese waters from across the Atlantic.

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