Over 7.5 tonnes of cocaine seized near Panama in joint Colombia-US operation

The cocaine was mixed with a construction product and transported aboard a ship to Panama. (AFP pic)

BOGOTA: Colombian and US authorities have seized 7.5 tonnes of cocaine near Panamanian waters, the defence ministry in Bogota said Wednesday.

The cocaine was mixed with a construction product and transported aboard a ship heading from Cartagena on Colombia’s Caribbean coast to the Panamanian port of Colon.

“During an operation by the Colombian national police and navy, in coordination with US authorities, more than 7.5 tonnes of cocaine hydrochloride were seized from a Colombian-flagged boat near Panama,” Colombia’s defence ministry said in a press release.

The cargo, intercepted in international waters, allegedly belonged to Colombia’s powerful Clan del Golfo cartel.

The cocaine, whose value was estimated at US$286 million, was destined for the international market via Clan contacts in drug trafficking gangs in Central America and Europe.

Colombia is the world’s largest producer of cocaine and coca leaves from which the drug is made, according to the United Nations. The US is the largest consumer.