Interpol seeks Portuguese over “cocaine hidden in rice” trafficking scam

A Portuguese man is being hunted by Interpol over a “highly sophisticated” cocaine trafficking scam that highjacked rice destined to feed the hungry, impregnating it with the drug at high temperatures.

The “sophisticated” network was based in Argentina and involved tons of rice sent by the United Nations’ “Fome Zero” programme to Guinea-Bissau, in Africa.

Once the cocaine was loaded onto the rice in liquid form, it was unnoticeable.

When it arrived in Africa, traffickers were able to remove it from the rice, via a chemical process, and then ship the drug to Portugal and Spain.

The operation was foiled by Argentine police late last summer when 30 kilos of cocaine, valued at around €1 million was seized.

At the time, narcotics investigators got in touch with police in Portugal, though the press here was not told why.

Now, national tabloid Correio da Manhã has revealed it was because one of the plot’s masterminds is thought to have been 57-year-old Fernando Manuel Martins Frutuoso, formally from the Minho region.

Frutuoso is currently on the “most wanted” list published by Interpol, suspected of international trafficking.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com