Bulgaria charges two Turkish citizens over heroin seizure

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SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgarian authorities have seized at least 400 kg (882 lb) of heroin from Iran, concealed in marble slabs, and charged two Turkish citizens with drug trafficking, a senior prosecutor said on Monday.

The drugs arrived at the Black Sea port of Varna in four containers before being taken to the warehouse in the southern city of Sliven, said Valentina Madzharova, the head of the Specialised Prosecutor's Office.

"We are talking about a trafficking channel for heroin of Iranian origin that was meant for further distribution to Western Europe," she told reporters.

Each slab contained 3 kg to 4 kg (6.6 lb to 8.8 lb) of high-quality heroin secreted in cavities in the marble, for a total volume that could reach 500 kg (1,102 lb) or more by the time work on the haul was complete, she added.

The value of the contraband is estimated at 25 million levs ($16 million).

Two Turkish citizens have been detained and charged with large-scale drug trafficking, after a four-month investigation in which Bulgarian police and customs co-operated with European and U.S. authorities, Madzharova said.

Bulgaria is on the so-called Balkan trafficking route that supplies the West with drugs from Asia and the Middle East. In February, it seized more than 400 kg of heroin from a container ship that arrived from Dubai.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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