Spain holds Bulgarians over S American cocaine ship

Colombian cocaine haul - file pic Colombian cocaine destined for Europe is often smuggled through Spain

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Spanish police have arrested 21 Bulgarians after seizing a ship off the southern port of Cadiz which was carrying about three tonnes of cocaine.

The SV Nikolay, seized on Monday, belongs to a firm in the Bulgarian port of Burgas, Bulgaria's BTA news agency reports. It was intercepted some 80km (50 miles) off Cadiz.

The South American cocaine was heading for Galicia, in north-western Spain.

Six Colombians were also arrested in Spain in the investigation.

The ship is owned by Burgas-based shipping firm Seaborne Trade. The firm's manager Doychin Doychev, quoted by BTA, said he had lost contact with the ship a day before it was intercepted. The crew are mainly Bulgarians from Burgas and Varna, he said.

Spanish police say they have seized nearly five tonnes of cocaine in total in recent days - more than in the whole of last year.

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