By Seun Ibiyemi
The Nigerian Navy on Thursday said it has arrested 22 Thai seafarers over alleged attempt to traffick 32.9kg of cocaine from Brazil into the shores of Nigeria.
The seafarers who are currently being detained at the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT, Apapa, Lagos, were arrested onboard MV CHAYANEE NAREE, by a joint team led by the Nigerian Navy following an intelligence report from the UK Border Force.
It was gathered that the cargo ship left Santos in Brazil on September 19, 2021 and the UK Border Force discovered that the vessel was heading to Nigeria with cocaine.
Addressing journalists on the arrest, the commander of NNS BEECROFT, Commodore Bashir Mohammed, said the sting operation was a collaborative effort between 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 said the team, acting on credible intelligence from INTERPOL, commenced tracking of the vessel, MV CHAYANEE NAREE with the Nigerian Navy Falcon Eye Maritime Domain Awareness System.
He said upon monitoring, it was discovered that the vessel departed Santos Brazil on September 19, 2021 and drifted for a week at a position about 250nm (approximately 500 kilometres) off the coast of Benin Republic from October 1 to October 8 before sailing and arriving Nigerian coastal water on October 8, 2021.
“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.
Also speaking, the Customs Area Controller, Apapa Command, Ibrahim Malanta Yusuf, said it was gratifying to point out that the success of the operation was as a result of the synergy and efforts between the Navy, INTERPOL Nigeria, NDLEA and Nigeria Customs Service.
He said as investigation progresseses, additional information on the incident will be released to the public through the press.
“The desired end state by all parties involved is the prosecution of all those involved in this nefarious act according to the laws of the land,” he added.