Buenos Aires - Creative drug smugglers in Argentina fused rice with cocaine and tried to ship nearly 1,000 bags to Europe marked as donations for a UN food program in Africa, police said Wednesday.
Authorities seized 920 bags of the special rice in the city of Rosario, north of the capital Buenos Aires, and arrested the gang behind the unusual ruse.
Drug traffickers planned to ship the rice to Brazil first, en route to Europe, but police derailed their plans.
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Experts said that the shipment would have hidden 20-30 kilos of cocaine.
"Most likely, this was a test run. And if it had gone through, they would have followed through with larger volume," customs chief Guillermo Michel told reporters.
Seven Colombians, four Argentines and a Guatemalan have been arrested for trafficking and possible money laundering, he said.
"This is a new one," Michel said, adding that authorities would have to adapt their search strategies.