Paraguayan authorities have apprehended the country’s most wanted criminal in a drug bust seizing more than 3,700 pounds of cocaine.
Ezequiel de Souza was arrested along with 19 other men at a ranch in in northeastern Paraguay’s Canindeyu district, where they intended to transport the drugs on small planes into neighboring countries, authorities said.
Marco Antonio Rocca Ali, believed to be a Bolivian drug lord, was also arrested in the raid, the BBC reported.
Paraguayan President Federico Franco praised the operation carried out by 40 agents, which police said was the South American country’s largest drug seizure this year.
"Paraguay is committed to fight drug-trafficking," Franco said, according to the BBC. "It will become known abroad as a sovereign nation, not as a drug-trafficking country."
Paraguay is bordered on the northwest by Bolivia, a major cocaine producer, and has become a regional hub for drug trafficking, particularly into neighboring Brazil, which has become the world’s second-largest consumer of cocaine after the U.S.