TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Security forces in Honduras have seized 2,852 wooden sticks stuffed with cocaine paste in the Caribbean port of Puerto Cortes, police said on Tuesday.
The paste, which serves as the basis for making cocaine, was found inside the sticks shipped in four of eight containers that came from Cartagena, Colombia, authorities said.
"The cocaine paste was inserted in (sticks) of wood that appeared to be completely closed," a police spokesman said.
"We have counted 339 kg (747 lb) of cocaine (paste) and tomorrow we will continue looking for more drugs in another three containers," he added.
A total of five containers had been searched on Tuesday and one was found not to hold any cocaine paste, he said.
The pieces of wood measured roughly 1 meter (3.3 feet) by 7.6 cm (3 inches).
Honduras has become an important staging post for narcotics traffickers linked to Mexican drug cartels transporting South American cocaine to the United States.
Cocaine is also being produced in Honduras. Three laboratories for cocaine production have been found in Honduras this year, a military official said.
The presence of drug gangs has increased violence in Honduras, which has the highest murder rate in the world, according to a recent United Nations report.
(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Writing by Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Lisa Shumaker)