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Cape Verde police arrest 11 Russian sailors with nine tonnes of cocaine

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Police in the Atlantic archipelago of Cape Verde say they have seized nearly 10 tons of cocaine and arrested 11 Russian sailors aboard a vessel docked in the capital.

Authorities said the seizure represented the largest single drug haul in the island country’s history. Cape Verde, a group of islands off Africa’s west coast with a population of some 500,000, has long battled gangs trafficking Latin American cocaine to Europe through West Africa.

The Russian Embassy in Cape Verde said it had received information the Russian sailors will appear in court on February 2. The embassy said diplomats have been able to visit the crew. Police officials said the 9.5 tons of cocaine were seized during the night after the ship docked at the port of Praia for legal reasons following the death of a crew member.

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The vessel had been traveling to Morocco from South America. Authorities said they were alerted by the Lisbon-based Maritime Analysis and Operation Center a body funded by seven EU countries that coordinates anti-drug-trafficking activities. The Russian-crewed vessel was registered in Panama, police said.

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