Nigerian Navy Intercepts Vessel, Nabs 22 Thais for Trafficking in Cocaine

THE Nigerian Navy said on Thursday that it has arrested 22 Thai seafarers over alleged attempt to traffick 32.9kg of cocaine from Brazil into Nigeria.

The seafarers, who were arrested aboard MV CHAYANEE NAREE by a joint team led by the Nigerian Navy, following an intelligence report from the UK Border Force, are currently being held at the Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS BEECROFT, Apapa, Lagos.

According to reports monitored by the Leadership newspapers, the cargo ship is said to have left Santos in Brazil on September 19, 2021 with the UK Border Force discovering that the vessel was heading to Nigeria with cocaine.

Commander, NNS BEECROFT, Commodore Bashir Mohammed, who spoke with newsmen, explained that the interception and subsequent arrest of the suspects were through a sting operation by the combined efforts of the Nigerian Navy and other law enforcement agencies, including the INTERPOL, the Nigerian Custom Services, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA.

Commodore Mohammed disclosed that the Nigerian Navy began tracked the vessel after receiving credible intelligence from Interpol, using its Falcon Eye Maritime Domain Awareness System. He pointed out that following further investigation after its interception, it was discovered that the vessel left Santos, Brazil, on September 19, 2021. However, it drifted for a week-between October 1 and 8, approximately 500 kilometres off the coast of Benin Republic before finally heading to the Nigerian coastal water.

Upon entering Nigerian waters, the vessel was intercepted by Nigerian Navy Ship EKULU and escorted to NPA’s port where she was directed to berth on October 9, 2021 and taken into custody by the Navy. Thereafter, other agencies were invited to conduct an extensive and comprehensive search of the vessel for narcotics and other contraband items.

“The suspected vessel was thoroughly searched by a combined team of Nigerian Navy, Interpol Nigeria, Nigerian Custom Service and Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency. The search began on October 9, 2021 and at about 6pm on October 13, 2021, efforts of the search team was rewarded when a bag was found in the Vessel’s Cargo Compartment One (VCCO).

“However, tests conducted on the contents of the bag by the NDLEA confirmed the substance to be cocaine wrapped in 30 slabs weighing 32.9 kg. Accordingly, the substance was handed over to the NDLEA while further search and investigation continued on every nook and cranny of the vessel,
” he said.

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