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A (regular) bus in Salvador Mazza, Argentina
A (regular) bus in Salvador Mazza, Argentina
Jesús Rodríguez

BUENOS AIRES— A band of 11 suspected cocaine smugglers were caught posing as a festive bus tour group destined for a Buenos Airescarnival, Argentine police reported this week.

The busload of fake "tourists from Ecuador" were stopped near the Bolivia-Argentine border town of Salvador Mazza. After the passengers, 10 men and one woman, said they were going to a carnival in Buenos Aires, police decided to search the bus, and found more than 350 kilograms of cocainehidden inside.

The drugs were packed in bricks, wrapped and sprayed with spices to deter police dogs. Police believe the passengers were hoping World Cup excitement would have relaxed vigilance at the border. "We thought something was not right. A bus with an Ecuador license plate, with ten men and a woman was strange," a policeman told Clarin.

After scanners indicated something unusual under the vehicle's floor, the bus was "literally taken apart" to reveal a hidden level hiding 300 bricks of 1.1 kilograms of cocaine, valued at just under $15.8 million.

"It wasn't so well hidden," said the police officer. The 11 suspects were detained. No carnival, alas, and no World Cup either.

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Geopolitics

Why The 'Perfect Storm' Of Iran's Protests May Be Unstoppable

The latest round of anti-regime protests in Iran is different than other in the 40 years of the Islamic Republic: for its universality and boldness, the level of public fury and grief, and the role of women and social media. The target is not some policy or the economy, but the regime itself.

A woman holds a lock of her hair during a London rally to protest the murder of Mahsa Amini in London

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-Analysis-

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Tehran on Sept. 16, after a possible beating at a police station, has sparked outrage and mass protests in Iran and abroad. There have been demonstrations and a violent attempt to suppress them in more than 100 districts in every province of Iran.

These protests may look like others since 2017, and back even to 1999 — yet we may be facing an unprecedented turning point in Iranians' opposition to the Islamic Republic. Indeed newly installed conservative President Ibrahim Raisi could not have expected such momentum when he set off for a quick trip to New York and back for a meeting of the UN General Assembly.

For one of the mistakes of a regime that takes pride in dismissing the national traditions of Iran is to have overlooked the power of grief among our people.

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