Pubdate: Fri, 24 Nov 2000
Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune (MN)
Copyright: 2000 Star Tribune
Contact:  425 Portland Ave., Minneapolis MN 55488
Fax: 612-673-4359
Author: Associated Press


SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO -- Smashing cocaine laboratories and burning marijuana
fields, police in 32 countries and territories have arrested thousands of
suspects and seized tons of drugs in three weeks of U.S.-orchestrated raids.

Police have arrested 2,876 people and seized more than 20 tons of cocaine
during the operation, said Michael Vigil, Caribbean director of the U.S.
Drug Enforcement Administration, which coordinated the raids.

The Oct. 27-Nov. 19 operation was the third and biggest in a series of raids
that began last year, officials said at a news conference in San Juan.

Police conducted more than 39,000 searches and raids, seizing 29 tons of
marijuana and 82,170 tablets of ecstasy, dismantling 94 drug factories and
confiscating 197 guns. They seized 100 tons of chemicals for drugmaking and
burned more than 9 square miles of fields of marijuana, heroin poppy and
coca plants used for making cocaine, official said.

In the Dominican Republic, police arrested Martires Paulino Castro, whom
they accuse of running a network that stretched from St. Maarten to New York
and shipped up to 4,400 pounds of Colombian cocaine to the United States
each month.

Dominican officials also arrested Julio Morales Martinez, who is accused of
smuggling cocaine to New York and New Jersey in shipping containers filled
with lettuce, tomatoes and plantains.
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