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The Cocaine Saved Them. Then It Got Them Busted

Suspected drug smugglers found clinging to bales in Pacific after boat overturns
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2019 11:24 AM CDT
In this undated image, more than 200 57-pound bales of cocaine found in a different sting are seen.   (AP Photo/UK's Ministry of Defense)

(Newser) – They can thank their drug bundles for both saving their lives and possibly ruining them. ABC Australia reports that three men from Colombia were plucked out of the Pacific over the weekend after spending hours in shark-filled waters. The alleged drug-runners, who were said by authorities to have departed from the port of Tumaco with 1.3 tons of cocaine on board, ended up in the sea Saturday after a wave slammed into their vessel and capsized it, says Capt. Jorge Maldonado of Colombia's Task Force Against Drug Trafficking. He said the men may have been trying to get the drugs to Central America.

When one of the country's coast guard ships eventually cruised by hours later—ABC says it was seven hours, Sky News "at least three"—the men were desperately clinging to the floating bundles that later tested positive for cocaine hydrochloride, about 35 miles from Tumaco. The suspects appear to be OK physically, but they've got other problems now: They're set to be brought up on drug trafficking charges. Meanwhile, officials are on the hunt for a fourth man who was said to have been with them but wasn't picked up in the rescue effort. (Read more drug smuggling stories.)

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