Navy helps to police suspected drug ship

Nov 12, 2007
Author: P&S

In a somewhat unusual event, the South African Navy assisted various other law enforcement agencies with the investigation into suspected drug smuggling off the South African coast.

The navy was called in to assist with monitoring a fish factory vessel that rounded the Cape and which was believed to have been carrying a cargo of drugs. The ship had been monitored from the air by aircraft of the South African Air Force after intelligence indicated the ship was sailing down the west coast and would round the Cape at a certain time. The frigate SAS ISANDLWANA was sent to follow the ship covertly for 24 hours and when authorities noticed the ship was not carrying a flag or other national identification, the decision was made to board and search the vessel.

Police sniffer dogs found no evidence of anything in the nature of drugs and the ship‘s master produced papers indicating his vessel was registered in Conakry in Guinea. As nothing untoward had been found the vessel was allowed to proceed, but shortly afterward turned round and retraced its path up the west coast, arriving in Abidjan where a search by Ivory Coast authorities revealed nothing suspicious.

It is suspected that if the ship was carrying drugs it was thrown overboard once those on the ship became aware they were under surveillance. Since then a parcel of cocaine has been washed up on the beach near Gansbaai near Hermanus on the southern Cape coast, which South African authorities believe may have come from the mystery ship.



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