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PUTTING IT IN PERSPECTIVE

The cocaine seizure Friday was the largest in world history, according to DEA officials.

Until then, the largest in U.S. history took place in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on Nov. 17, 1987, when agents seized 4.35 tons of cocaine.

The largest previous seizure in world history, the DEA says, took place on March 10, 1984, in Tranquilandia, Colombia, when 11 tons were seized.

HOW DOES IT TRANSLATE?

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Seizures: The haul was roughly four times as large as the total amount of cocaine seized citywide in Los Angeles in 1988, according to the Police Department.

In the entire year of 1988, the LAPD seized 10,610 pounds of cocaine.

Here are the corresponding numbers for previous years:

1987--13,345 pounds

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1986--13,184 pounds

1985--2,065 pounds

1984--758 pounds

Height: LAPD narcotics officers say that an average kilogram brick of cocaine is roughly a foot long, six inches wide and five inches thick. The 20 tons amount to more than 18,000 kilograms. Using those figures, if the cocaine seized were stacked in kilogram packages, the pile would rise more than 7,500 feet in the air, almost a mile and a half high, about half the height of Mt. Whitney, the tallest peak in the continental U.S. It would also be 9 times the height of the First Interstate Bank Tower and 16 times as tall as City Hall.

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Weight: The haul is equal to about four circus elephants, about 15 Toyota Celicas, or two fully loaded Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation garbage trucks.

Money: Using a street value of $6.7 billion, the seized cocaine exceeds the annual sales of any industrial corporation in the United States except the top 65 firms. For example, Texas Instruments’ annual sales in 1988 were $6.2 billion; Northrop’s annual sales in 1988 were $5.8 billion, and Campbell Soup’s annual sales in 1988 were $4.9 billion.

The man considered the richest American, Wal-Mart Stores founder Sam Moore Walton, has an estimated worth of $6.7 billion, according to the latest Forbes Four Hundred list.

In another comparison, Sony Corp. bought Columbia Pictures this week for $3.4 billion, and Anheuser-Busch bought the Sea Worlds parks for $1.1 billion.

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And in 1986, General Electric bought RCA (which included NBC) for $6.2 billion.

Using that same $6.7-billion figure, the amount is larger than the gross national product of all but 67 nations worldwide.


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