Guatemala arrests Ecuadorians smuggling cocaine on boat

Guatemalan anti-narcotics officers have seized 540 kilos of cocaine hidden on a boat.

Guatemalan anti-narcotics officers have seized 540 kilos (1.2 tons) of cocaine hidden on a boat and arrested the four Ecuadorians on board, officials said Monday.

The vessel was intercepted late Sunday off Guatemala`s Pacific coast and the officers discovered the drugs packed in one-kilo bags, a spokeswoman for the state prosecutor`s office, Julia Barrera, told reporters.
The boat and the Ecuadorians were taken to a navy base in the southern Escuintla region, she said.

Central America is a waypoint for illicit drugs heading from South America to the United States.

According to US estimates, some 90 percent of cocaine consumed in America is brought there by land, air or sea -- including by submarine -- through the region and then through Mexico.

Guatemalan officials say around half the 6,000 homicides recorded annually in their country are linked to drug trafficking and turf wars between gangs.

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