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BUSTS LINKED TO COLOMBIA’S DRUG WAR

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The 36 tons of cocaine seized over the last week are a clear indication that Colombia's war on drugs is creating chaos for cocaine kingpins, federal officials said Thursday.

"We're seizing a lot more cocaine because a lot more cocaine's moving out, because it's not safe to leave it in Colombia any more," Transportation Secretary Samuel K. Skinner said at a news conference in front of a boat on which more than six tons of cocaine was found.Drug cartels used to keep large stockpiles of cocaine in Colombia and move it gradually to the United States, he said, but they're now moving it in huge lots.

"That's because of the pressure from the government in Colombia," he said. Colombia has cracked down heavily on drug traffickers since a leading presidential candidate was assassinated Aug. 18.

Skinner spoke in front of the Zedom Sea, a rusty, dented 185-foot offshore supply boat turned freighter. The Coast Guard seized the boat Monday in the Gulf of Mexico, then handed over the cargo and the crew of nine Colombians - eight men and a woman - Thursday to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The nine were arraigned later on charges of importing cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.