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Italy police seize record 5.3-ton cocaine haul off coast of Sicily

Drugs had market value of €850 million.

Italian customs police on Thursday announced the seizure of 5.3 tons of cocaine from a fishing boat off Sicily's south-western coast, hailing it as the biggest drug seizure ever made in Italy.

The cocaine haul has a street value was estimated at more than €850 million, according to the Guardia di Finanza police.

The seizure was the result of an air and sea reconnaissance by Palermo financial police and prosecutors from the anti-mafia directorate whose officers followed a merchant vessel flying the Palau flag and a fishing boat that departed from the Calabrian coast.

The seizure was made on Wednesday night in the Strait of Sicily after police detected that numerous packages were being offloaded from the merchant ship and being collected by the fishing boat.

Following a search, officers discovered the massive haul of drugs crammed into a hidden room below deck, concealed behind panelling.

The boat was seized and the five men aboard were arrested. The merchant ship was also blocked by police as it headed in the direction of Turkey.

Photo Guardia di Finanza
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