Please select your home edition
Edition
Zhik Yachting Range

$370 million yacht drug haul spells difficulties for cruising sailors

by Des Ryan on 24 Aug 2013
Raj looking peaceful .. .
The sad thing for sailors about the $370 million worth of cocaine which has been intercepted on a yacht in Vanuatu is that it is bound to make the way more difficult for long range cruising sailors as they make their way from country to country. The drug traffickers thought they had found the perfect way to slip their cargo - aboard one of the fleet of little-noticed sailing boats that move like migrating birds around the world.

The multi-agency law enforcement operation across the South Pacific has resulted in the seizure of approximately 750 kilograms of cocaine in Vanuatu. This is likely to make checks more stringent on the hundreds of innocent cruising boats in the Pacific.

Since 2010, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) and United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have collaborated with South Pacific nations to investigate organised crime syndicates using yachts and similar vessels travelling through the region with cocaine shipments bound for Australia.

Project Cringle was established as a long-term AFP, ACBPS and DEA project targeting criminal organisations using the South Pacific as a transit point and staging area for their activities.

In July 2013, the AFP, ACBPS and the DEA commenced Operation Basco as a result of intelligence gathered in Project Cringle. This joint investigation targeted a yacht known as the Raj docked in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

The assistance of the Vanuatu Police Force was sought to seize and search the 'Raj'. Concealment experts from ACBPS and agents from the AFP and DEA travelled to Vanuatu on Monday to assist in the extensive examination.

Officers discovered an estimated 750 kilograms of cocaine hidden in the lower engine compartments and around the keel area of the hull.

It is estimated this consignment would be worth approximately $370 million, and has presented in excess of 750,000 individual deals from reaching Australian streets.

US Drug Enforcement Administration Senior Attache David Cali said this joint operation sent a strong message to organised crime groups seeking to operate in the South Pacific.

'This seizure is another fine example of the successes achieved when international law enforcement collaborates to rid our societies of the evils of drugs,' Attache Cali said.

'Organised crime syndicates should know that we are prepared, willing and able to combine our skills, resources and efforts to target them.'

The efforts of all agencies involved in Project Cringle, along with authorities in Tonga, the Cook Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia have resulted in almost two tonnes of cocaine destined for Australia being seized from five vessels since 2010.

.........................

Letter from Sail-World Correspondent:

Hi Nancy, reading your latest newsletter today I noticed a piece on the seizure of drugs in Vanuatu. The Pacific Circuit Rally fleet was in Vila at the time of the bust.
Timing however is subjective. ICA has long worked with Customs agencies around the Pacific and in two recent cases (there has been over 10 tons of drugs seized on yachts in the last five years) tip from cruisers have helped the authorities to nail the culprits.

It can be as simple as a tip about a suspicion, then step back and let the good guy’s take over. In the case of the recent bust, which is related to the last large haul on the vessel Friday Freedom, the Customs, DEA and Australian Federal Police have been working towards this for nearly two and a half years.

If all cruisers kept their eyes open and passed that information on perhaps the drug lords will find another means of transport.

As to these busts causing problems for cruisers, we haven’t noticed any increase in difficulty or a sense of suspicion but perhaps that’s because we enter and clear most countries as part of a rally.
Cheers

John & Lyn Martin
Directors
Island Cruising Assoc.
www.islandcruising.co.nz
john@islandcruising.co.nz

InSunSport - NZNewport Boat Show 2016 660x82Zhik ZKG 660x82

Related Articles

Reducing weight aloft with composite backstays
Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Every kilogram you take out of the rig is roughly equivalent to 4kg added to the bottom of your keel!
Posted on 26 Jul
Free $US3,000 Carbon Vang with SouthernFurl boom orders in July
Southern Spars is giving a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July Southern Spars is giving away a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with all of their SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July. Carbon gas vangs make a great addition to the furling boom package, though if you’d prefer to keep your existing one, Southern Spars will offer you a 5% discount on the price of your boom instead.
Posted on 29 Jun
Newport Bermuda Race - High Noon takes honours
As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, the powerful 100-foot grand prix Comanche, to the surprise of many they were led by an unusual boat and crew. High Noon, at 41 feet, is fully 59 feet shorter than Comanche and tens of feet shorter than many other entries.
Posted on 22 Jun
Platino recovery - Family confirms that tug has made rendezvous
Reports in social media say a salvage tug has made a rendezvous with the Platino earlier than expected. Reports in social media by family and friends of Nick Saull, the crew member killed during a catastrophic incident abroad the 66ft yacht Platino say the salvage tug which left on Tuesday night has made the rendezvous earlier than expected. The Facebook report says the tug, Sea Pelican, arrived on Friday morning, the weather in the area has eased and with a more favorable outlook.
Posted on 16 Jun
Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron to ban bottled water
Approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. The RQYS Management Committee has confirmed that approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. This will place the club as a leader in environmental impact management in Australia and around the world. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club earlier this year did likewise. Who’s next?
Posted on 16 Jun
SouthernFurl In-Boom furling systems withstand Sydney Hobart test
Southern Spars design team have developed the SouthernFurl Boom smaller budgets and yachts from 35-70 feet. Have you ever scared your family when you got stuck with too much sail up when you should be reefed? Southern Spars’ range of SouthernFurl booms are the answer – letting you reduce sail quickly and easily without leaving the safety of the cockpit.
Posted on 23 May
2016 Garda Trentino Olympic Week - Day 4
Garda Trentino Olympic Week 2016 draws near to the conclusion: the weather once again proves difficult. Garda Trentino Olympic Week 2016 draws near to the conclusion: the weather once again proves difficult. Tomorrow the medal race is scheduled for the Lasers and another two races for the three paralympic classes.
Posted on 13 May
CCA presents RCC Award to Scott and Mary Flanders
CCA has announced that Scott and Mary Flanders are the recipients of the organization’s 2015 Royal Cruising Club Trophy. The Cruising Club of America (CCA) has announced that Scott and Mary Flanders are the recipients of the organization’s 2015 Royal Cruising Club Trophy.
Posted on 22 Apr
Cyclone Winston Relief Fund – Help the people of Fiji
Sea Mercy is sending volunteer fleet of small and large vessels, loaded with shelter, food and medical supplies to Fiji. Sea Mercy is once again sending our volunteer fleet of small and large vessels, loaded with shelter, food, water and medical supplies and teams to Fiji.
Posted on 27 Feb
Golden Globe Race - 30 sailors from 12 countries named for challenge
Sailors from America, Britain and France head the preliminary entry list for the 2018 Golden Globe solo round the world Sailors from America, Britain and France head the preliminary entry list for the 2018 Golden Globe solo round the world race. The 29 men and one woman – have each paid an initial A$3,000 entry fee. Other entrants hail from Austria, Australia, Brazil, Estonia, India, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Palestine, Russia and Switzerland.
Posted on 18 Feb