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Shipwrecked Colombians clung to cocaine bales

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Bogota (AFP)

Three suspected drug smugglers survived in shark-infested Pacific waters by clinging for hours to floating bales of cocaine, Colombia's navy said Tuesday.

The three Colombians are suspected of smuggling 1.2 tons of cocaine from Tumaco in Colombia when their boat was hit by a wave Saturday and capsized, Captain Jorge Maldonado of Colombia's Task Force Against Drug Trafficking told AFP.

By the time the men were picked up around 30 nautical miles from Tumaco by a Colombian coastguard vessel, they had been in the water for about seven hours, Maldonado said.

"The coastguard arrived and these three people were floating on a material that by its characteristics resembled drugs," said Maldonado.

The men were taken ashore along with the floating bales, which tested positive for cocaine hydrochloride.

The men were in good health and will face charges of drugs trafficking.

The search is continuing for a fourth man whom the men said was with them.

"Very possibly they were on their way to central America," Maldonado said.

The port of Tumaco is one of the main conduits for drugs exiting Colombia for Central America and the United States.

Colombia remains the world's largest producer of cocaine, and the United States its biggest consumer.

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