401 kilos of cocaine found on Cuban ship; Diaz-Balart: Castro regime 'caught red-handed'

Panamanian authorities seized 401 kilos, about 882 pounds, of cocaine on a ship headed to Belgium from Cuba on Thursday.

The cocaine was found camouflaged among tanks of cane-sugar syrup, according to the country's National Police (PN), part of operation Caña Brava. The PN did not elaborate further on the raid.

Despite the lack of details available, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) fired off a press release blaming the Cuban government and the Castro regime for trafficking cocaine.

"The Castro regime has once again been caught red-handed violating international law and norms," Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American, said. "This time, it reportedly was caught red-handed sending hundreds of kilos of cocaine to Belgium. This is only the latest in the Castro regime's long history of links to narcotrafficking."

Diaz-Balart pointed to a 2015 case in which Colombian authorities discovered a hidden shipment of weapons from Cuba on a Chinese ship and a 2013 case in which Panamanian authorities caught the Castro regime smuggling 240 tons of military weaponry, including MiG-21 fighter jets, to North Korea.

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The congressman has opposed U.S. President Barack Obama's overtures to normalize relations with Cuba's communist regime and has that the initiative has only served to "embolden" the Castro regime and "escalate its illicit activities."

The bust took place in Colón, Panama, an official source told EFE.

EFE contributed to this report.

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