Colombian police arrest 17 in international drug ring bust

BOGOTA (AFP) - Police in Colombia have arrested 17 people allegedly involved in an international cocaine-smuggling ring, authorities said Saturday.

Justice officials said the arrests in the northern districts of Magdalena, North Santander and Guajira followed a six-month investigation by the Area Intelligence Narcotics Division.

Those arrested were linked to the "Los Urabenos" paramilitary group, which funds itself through drug-trafficking, and ex-guerrilla Victor Navarro.

The suspects are accused of aggravated drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit aggravated drug trafficking, justice officials said.

More than 530kg of cocaine and 61kg of unprocessed cocaine were seized during the investigation.

Colombia produced some 309 tons of cocaine in 2012, according to the latest report by the United Nations (UN) Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), making the country the world's biggest producer of cocaine together with Peru.