March 29, 2000

Multination drug sweep nets 2,331 arrests

                   SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (CNN) -- A sweeping drug bust involving the
                   collaboration of 25 nations has resulted in 2,331 arrests and the seizure of more
                   than 10,000 pounds (4,966 kilograms) of cocaine, drug enforcement agents said
                   on Wednesday.

                   Michael Vigil of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said the cooperation
                   of 25 Central and South American and Caribbean countries in the 17-day operation
                   -- Operation Conquistador -- was as important as both the drugs seized and the drug
                   operations disrupted.

                   "Operation Conquistador was a great success in accomplishing its objectives of making
                   progress toward a comprehensive regional strategy, facilitating the exchange of information,
                   integrating all entities having counter-drug responsibilities and creating an operational nexus
                   between the Caribbean and Central and South America," Vigil said.

                   In addition to the cocaine, agents also seized 122.5 pounds (55.6 kilograms) of
                   heroin and 362.5 metric tons of marijuana.

                   Agents destroyed thousands of pounds of coca leaf and chemicals used to
                   process that leaf into cocaine.

                   The operations took place in Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador,
                   Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Montserrat, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis,
                   Antigua, Anguilla, St. Martin, British Virgin islands, Barbuda, Grenada, Barbados,
                   St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Aruba, Curacao, Jamaica, Haiti,
                   Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.