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Drug lab near cash plane crash site

Associated Press Published: May 16, 2012

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuador's official news agency says police have found a cocaine-processing lab near where a small Mexican-registered plane crashed over the weekend with $1.3 million in cash aboard.

Andina news agency says three people were arrested and a half ton of cocaine seized at the lab Wednesday.

Andina also says authorities assume the plane was carrying more than the $1.3 million that was found after it crashed, killing the pilot and co-pilot. It identifies them as presumed members of Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel.

Unlike neighboring Peru and Colombia, Ecuador is not known to cultivate coca, the basis of cocaine. But it is a transit country and authorities say they dismantled five cocaine labs in Ecuador last year and have found four so far this year.