Police seize 3 tons of cocaine on Colombia's Caribbean coast

Bogota, Apr 20 (EFE).- Colombian police seized three tons of cocaine belonging to a gang of paramilitary drug traffickers known as "Los Urabeños" at a farm in the northern province of Antioquia on the Caribbean coast, authorities said.

The drug was confiscated at the Punta de Piedra Farm in a rural area of Antioquia's Turbo municipality and very close to the beach, the director of Colombia's National Police, Gen. Jose Roberto Leon Riaño, said.

The subterranean cache "contained 3,000 packs of the drug, which when weighed added up to 3,000 kilos (3.3 tons) and bore the "Oster" logo, characteristic of the criminal gang "Los Urabeños," the general said. The drug was worth some $75 million on the black market.

The hideaway "had special air conditioning so the humidity would not damage the cocaine," Leon Riaño said, adding that this was an important feature since it was located just 150 meters (490 feet) from the sea.

Leon Riaño said the drug was exported by Los Urabeños from the farm on speedboats to Central America, where it was received by Mexican cartels, Los Zetas in particular, who then shipped it to the United States, also by sea.

The farm also served as a collection center to which shipments came from all over the central and northern areas of Colombia, the authorities said.

According to police, the drug shipments were directed by Francisco Jose Morelo Peñate, alias "El Negro Sarley," the No. 2 ringleader of Los Urabeños, for whom the authorities offer a 1.2 billion peso ($650,000) reward.

El Negro Sarley is the brother-in-law of Dario Antonio Usuga, alias "Otoniel," the kingpin of this paramilitary drug ring.

At the farm police also seized 20 kilos (44 pounds) of marijuana, three assault rifles and ammunition.

According to the authorities, with this operation the cocaine confiscated in Colombia to date in 2013 amounts to 52 tons. In 2012, some 241 tons of cocaine were seized.