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Bolivia seizes 27 tons of coca disguised as yerba mate tea

March 2, 2015

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivian authorities say they’ve seized 27 metric tons of shredded coca leaves that were to have been shipped to Lebanon for processing into cocaine.

It was labeled as yerba mate, a caffeine-rich tea that is especially popular in Argentina and Uruguay. That’s according to deputy social defense minister Felipe Caceres. He told reporters that Monday’s seizure was a first.

Caceres said the shredded coca was found in a warehouse in the eastern city of Santa Cruz and was to have been shipped to Lebanon through Chile.

He said it could have yielded 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of cocaine, which could fetch at least $4 million wholesale in Europe and the Middle East.

Caceres said two people were arrested at the Santa Cruz warehouse.

He did not disclose their names.

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