Colombia, Mexico and Ecuador arrest international drug ring

Authorities in Colombia, Mexico and Ecuador shut down an international drug trafficking and money laundering operation on Thursday, arresting some 60 suspects in near-simultaneous raids in the three Latin American countries, police said.

In the operation dubbed "Jaguar," anti-drug agents also seized 2.2 tons (2 metric tons) of cocaine in various parts of Colombia and another ton (0.9 metric tons) in Ecuador, Col. Jaime Gutierrez, deputy director of Colombia's Judicial Police, told The Associated Press.

The network exported "a large quantity" of the drug every month and "was made up of a group of traffickers who had tentacles both in the United States and Europe. They sent the drugs to the U.S. through Mexico or across the Pacific," Gutierrez said.

Twenty-seven people were arrested in Colombia, 22 in Mexico and 11 in Ecuador after an extensive four-month investigation.

The ring was also invovled in "laundering money through money exchange businesses in Cali and Bogota with the help of a fake private security firm," Gutierrez said. It wasn't immediately known whether any of those arrested Thursday are the subject of a U.S. extradition request, the AP reports.

Authorities in Colombia, the world's largest producer of cocaine and a major supplier of heroin to the United States, have seized more than 110 tons (100 metric tons) of cocaine so far this year. Police here have also confiscated 74 boats, seven small planes and 372 vehicles. A.M.

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