June 9, 2010 / 6:26 AM / in 7 years

Gambia makes big cocaine bust, arrests 12: source

BANJUL (Reuters) - Gambian police seized 2.5 tonnes of cocaine bound for Europe and arrested a dozen suspected traffickers after a joint investigation with British detectives, a security source said on Tuesday.

<p>A policeman prepares seized drugs to be burned outside of Chinandega city, some 135 km (84 miles) west of the capital, May 16, 2010. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas</p>

West Africa has become a major transit point for Latin American narcotics as smugglers take advantage of generally weak surveillance in the vast region.

The cocaine, which has an estimated street value of around $1 billion, was found over the weekend hidden in a warehouse outside Gambia’s capital Banjul, the source told Reuters.

He said a cache of guns and money was also seized.

Gambian authorities began making arrests related to the case in mid-May and subsequently invited Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency to help, the source said.

Those arrested included Latin Americans, Africans and Europeans, the source said.

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