CUSTOMS officers discovered six large packages containing 172 kilos of cocaine hidden in the water intake of a ship that was passing through Gibraltar.
A local company that was doing a routine check of the Hong Kong-registered ‘BBG Journey’ bulk carrier raised the alarm.
They spotted some ropes that were coming out of the grill that protected the water intake, known as the ‘sea chest’, and contacted Gibraltar customs.
HMS Sentinel immediately sped to where the boat was anchored to take a closer look.
Divers discovered the packages tied to the inside of the hull and took them back to the Customs Marine Base for further inspection.
With the help of the Royal Gibraltar Police Crime Scene Investigation Unit they opened the packages to discover the 172 kilos of cocaine.
Authorities then interviewed crew members and carried out more searches before releasing the ship.
“Although there are no reasons to suspect that the drugs were destined to Gibraltar, this detection has prevented a substantial amount of illegal drugs from ending up at its intended destination,” HM Customs said in a statement.
“It has no doubt served a considerable economic blow to the drugs traffickers behind it, depriving them of the proceeds of this criminal activity.”
Drug smugglers have been known to strap drugs to ships in hidden locations on the hull, normally without the knowledge of the crew.
The Collector of Customs said he would ‘like to commend his own officers for their hard work and professionalism and congratulate them on a job well done’.
“I congratulate all the agents and officials involved on this excellent seizure that deprives drug gangs of an important shipment and saves lives by keeping the drug off the streets,” Chief Minister Fabian Picardo added.
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