JULY 1 2007 16:43h
Police in Senegal have arrested three men from Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador after seizing 1.2 tonnes of cocaine.
Police discovered the boat, which apparently had a mechanical problem, on Wednesday at the Atlantic resort of Mbour, 70 km (44 miles) south of the capital Dakar. It was the West African country's biggest ever narcotics seizure.
"We've arrested three people. A Venezuelan, a Colombian and an Ecuadorean," commander Moussa Fall of the investigation department of the paramilitary police told Reuters on Sunday.
He said the men, who had been under surveillance for eight months, were found in possession of weapons including Kalashnikov and Beretta rifles, a satellite navigation device and foreign and local currency.
One was arrested at the coastal resort of Saly, south of Dakar, while two others were arrested in the Sine Saloum, a sprawling river delta of lush mangrove swamps and islets.
The seizure highlights concerns that impoverished West Africa, with its unguarded coastline and sparsely populated interior, is becoming a major trafficking route for Latin American drug runners into Europe.
Police found nobody on the vessel when it was discovered but confiscated documents and a bank card from Guinea-Bissau, as well as two airline tickets from Rio de Janeiro to Bissau.
U.N. officials have recently expressed concern that Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony south of Senegal, could become overrun by drug cartels, which its cash-strapped security forces are ill-equipped to tackle.