CUSTOMS officers have seized more than 500 kilos of cocaine attached to the hull of two bulk carriers that were anchored off Gibraltar’s coast.
The street value of the cocaine comes to about £30 million, Gibraltar Customs said in a statement on Wednesday, leading to the congratulations of Caretaker Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
Customs officers made their first seizure on September 23 when officers used a local diving company to recover 11 large packages from the sea chest of the ‘Unity N’ bulk carrier.
The packages attached to the Marshall Islands-flagged ship contained 458kg of the Class A drug cocaine.
Then on September 25, customs officers used a sea drone to inspect the Portuguese-flagged ‘Alice Oldendroff’ based on what the statement called ‘reliable information’.
“During the course of the inspection, a ‘parasitic device’ was detected attached to its port side,” the Customs said.
A local diving company removed the package which contained 50kg of cocaine in 41 slabs.
Customs and police officers interviewed the crew of both ships but verified they were not complicit in drug trafficking.
International criminals have started using this method of attaching the drugs to the hulls of ships using their own divers without the knowledge of their crews.
Authorities released both bulk carriers soon after, making sure to keep any material of evidential value.
The Customs chief thanked his officers from the different sections for their ‘hard work and professionalism’ in seizing the cocaine.
Picardo said: “I would like to thank all the officers involved in these two operations for their efforts in ensuring Gibraltar continues to clamp down and tackle any sort of illicit activity that may occur across the Strait.”