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Big international drug ring dismantled in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Nov 4 (EFE).- Brazil’s Federal Police, in collaboration with security forces of Honduras, Colombia and the United States, dismantled Tuesday an international drug-trafficking and money-laundering ring operating out of Brazil, Venezuela and Honduras, officials said.

The organization was based in Sinop, a municipality in the western Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, where most of the 24 arrest warrants and 25 search-and-capture orders were served, all handed down by the judge investigating the case.

The police operation also extended to another three Brazilian states: Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais and Amazonas.

The police, who began investigating the organization in 2011, estimate that close to a ton of cocaine was shipped every month from the Venezuelan region of Apure, on the Colombian border and dominated by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to Honduras for the purpose of supplying the Mexican drug cartels.

The criminal network based in Brazil would acquire airplanes in that country and modify their identification codes, adapt them to transport goods and used them to ship drugs from Venezuela to Honduras. The planes were then abandoned them.

Members of the organization would return to Brazil on commercial flights.

The operation of Brazil’s Federal Police was aided by the Honduras police, the Colombian air force, the Brazilian air force, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which were responsible for capturing the aircraft in Honduran territory.

Those in custody were charged with international drug trafficking, association to traffic drugs internationally, money laundering and for operating a multinational criminal organization. EFE