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Feds Seize Nearly 5 Tons of Cocaine

January 21, 1999

HOUSTON (AP) _ In the biggest cocaine haul in Texas history, U.S. authorities seized nearly five tons of the drug aboard a freighter delivering iron ore from Brazil.

The Coast Guard found 9,500 pounds of cocaine _ an estimated street value of $186 million _ during an inspection at sea last week of a 580-foot Cannes, a Greek-owned, Panamanian-registered cargo ship.

The cocaine seizure was one of the 10 largest in U.S. history, Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater said Thursday.

``This amount of cocaine could put at least one dose of the drug in the hand of every schoolchild across America, from preschool to high school,″ he said.

Coast Guard officials boarded the ship and accompanied it to Texas, where it arrived Wednesday.

Four people, including the captain, were arrested. The 20 other crew members were being interrogated.

Marilyn Hebinck, a lawyer representing the ship owner’s insurer, declined yo comment.

Jack Holman, the vessel’s Houston-based shipping agent, said he was working with authorities to find the origin of the drugs.

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