Master-Chief Engineer Duo Charged of Smuggling 850 Kilograms Cocaine Worth 375 Million Dollars

Two Sailors from Montenegro and a third from Lithuania have been charged by the Perth Magistrates Court, Australia, for smuggling around 850 kilograms of cocaine worth 375 million US dollars.

Video Credits: 9 News

The drug was seized from a bulk carrier called St Pinot, sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands. It is alleged that the drug came from South America.

The two seafarers, aged 43 and 39, were working as Master and Chief Engineer onboard the 58,000 DWT ship.

Police mentioned that the two sailors were nabbed in Perth, while the third member was arrested in Sydney while he was trying to board a flight.

Police revealed that the duo knew about the cocaine onboard the bulk carrier and planned to drop it off the coast of Fremantle to another group.

The master told the other crew members to alter their course as the ship reached close to Fremantle Port; however, according to the police, the planned exchange failed.

Since the drugs were hidden in the ship’s ballast tank, the men tried to hide them by filling the tank with water. They also told the other crew members to give false information to the shipping agent and authorities.

However, on 31st May, officers from the Australian Police and Border Force found 29 packages of cocaine wrapped carefully in blue plastic after they received an SOS call from a small cabin cruiser off the coast of Rottnest Island.

Another package was obtained once the ballast tank was emptied. Each package had several 1- kilogram cocaine blocks, reported the police officials.

It is alleged that the men will probably face life imprisonment if convicted. Another master and chief engineer have boarded the vessel, as authorities have continued the search of the bulk carrier.

Per authorities, drug trafficking has become a profitable trade for some sailors in Montenegro, a former Yugoslav Republic inhabited by around 630,000 people.

It has a rich history of maritime trade; however, for many years, it has functioned as a point of transit for the illegal trade of drugs and cigarettes.

Per official data, since 2018, sailors from Montenegro have been arrested in 7 different police operations worldwide, involving the confiscation of over 30 tonnes of drugs.

Crime Gangs from the Balkan Region are quite active and try to traffic drugs from Latin America to Europe through international Seaports. Some of these groups have a global network of operations.

Per Europol, these groups are behind at least 30% of cocaine trafficking from Latin America to European countries.

References: MSN, Balkan Insight, watoday

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