Authorities in the Dominican Republic have discovered an underground lab for processing cocaine, the first ever found in a Caribbean country that has been experiencing a surge in drug seizures, officials said Monday.
The clandestine lab was found beneath a grove of fruit trees on a ranch near the village of Sabana Toro, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Santo Domingo. Police were searching the property a week after two Colombians were arrested there on suspicion of drug charges, the attorney general's office said in a statement.
Inside the lab, authorities seized about 225 kilograms of the base ingredient in cocaine in what Police Chief Manuel Castro Castillo called "an unprecedented strike against organized crime" in the country.
This is the first time that police have found a significant cocaine processing lab in the Dominican Republic, the attorney general's office said.
Police identified the two detained Colombians as Johan Jairon Roldan Estrada y Angel Fernandez Vargas.
The Dominican Republic has reported record seizures of cocaine for each of the last three years and the country has become a transit zone for drugs destined for Europe and the United States.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said earlier this year that an estimated 6 percent of the cocaine bound for the United States would pass through the Dominican Republic.