A supramax bulker, Cooper Island, from Pacific Basin and its crew of 20 were detained in Nigeria after authorities discovered a substantial amount of cocaine on board. The Daily Trend revealed that the authorities confiscated 24 kilograms of cocaine from the 58,000-dwt vessel, which was built in 2014.
According to the report, the ship was first intercepted on 6 July at Tin Can Island in Lagos. Subsequently, on Friday, the Federal High Court ordered its arrest by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) until 17 August.
The court also sanctioned the detention of the master and 19 other seafarers until the investigation concludes. There have been no implications suggesting the crew members’ involvement in the drug smuggling.
The vessel, which flies a Hong Kong flag, was reportedly transporting sugar from Brazil. Pacific Basin confirmed that the NDLEA discovered several suspicious packages on the ship on 6 July.
The company stated that all relevant parties had been notified and the crew of the Cooper Island had undergone routine interviews. Legal and surveying support is being provided to the crew members as they collaborate with the authorities to ensure a safe journey for all aboard and the vessel itself.
Pacific Basin added, “The master and crew, with the support of the P&I club lawyer, are continuing to assist the authorities with the investigation”.
The company reiterated its stringent stance on situations involving illicit drug transport. The ship’s owner is extending full support to the crew and master while fully cooperating with the authorities and ongoing police investigations.
Nigerian prosecutors are jointly investigating the case with Interpol and other international agencies. The operation involved collaboration between the NDLEA, navy, and port security officials.
Prosecutors added that the captain and crew members have provided “useful extra-judicial statements” to aid in the investigation.
The AIS data indicates that the Cooper Island departed from Santos in Brazil on 19 June.
SOURCE: Trade Winds
IMAGE: ModelShip Carrier