Odisha Court Orders 100 Crore Bond For Release Of Cargo Ship Carrying Cocaine

The Indonesian cargo ship’s owners, which has been stranded off the coast of Paradip, Odisha, since December of last year after 22 kilograms of cocaine were found, were ordered by an Odisha court on Monday to provide a ₹100 crore bond as well as a ₹10 crore guarantee from a bank for it to be released from custody.

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act court in Kujang heard the case about the drug haul. It decided that the MV Debi would be released only upon presenting a ₹100 crore bond and a ₹ 10 crore bank guarantee for the ship’s release. On November 29, the bulk carrier MV Debi sailed from the Gresik Port in Indonesia to the port of Paradip.

Cargo ship
Representation Image

Based on intelligence that some suspected packets of drugs were concealed in the vessel, the customs officers thoroughly searched the vessel after the intervening night of November 30 and December 1. There were 22 packets neatly wrapped and affixed with magnets. These were recovered from the vessel’s cranes.

Customs officials have also seized over 20 kgs of cocaine from the Panama-registered vessel, the market value of which is estimated to be nearly ₹220 crores. Almost ten people, including three crew members from Vietnam, six crane operators associated with the Paradip port, and a managerial-level worker of a stevedoring agency, are currently under the eyes of some probe agencies.

The vessel is manned by a crew comprising Vietnamese nationals. It is found to operate under Asia Pacific Shipping Co Ltd and is registered in Panama. Having set sail from Gresik Port and on the way to Denmark, the vessel had raised suspicions owing to its previous port of call.

In January 2024, a Vietnamese national who was employed as the third engineer on the vessel tried to commit suicide by slitting their right hand. He had tried jumping into the sea but could not be rescued.

Reference: The Hindu

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