$120 million in cocaine found attached to ship's rudder

Customs and Coast Guard officials have discovered close to $120 million worth of cocaine hidden below a foreign tanker that was docked at the Atlantic Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) port in Point Fortin, sometime on Wednesday morning.

The vessel has been identified as 'Hispania Spirit' and this is not the first time that the vessel has been found with cocaine.

On September 8, 2015, Coast Guard officials found 211 kilogrammes of cocaine in a compartment aboard the vessel in Pisco, Peru and was detained by authorities.

Back then, a Venezuelan national who didn't belong to the crew, was arrested.

In this morning's discovery, the seven bales of cocaine, Customs sources told Guardian Media, were also found attached to the rudder of the LNG tanker.

The rudder is a big metal flap at the tail of the ship that assists in the steering of the vessel.

Sources close to the investigation said that before the vessel's departure the captain was conducting safety checks when he saw what appeared to be suspicious packages in the rudder area.

The captain alerted an agent who later contacted the authorities who retrieved the bales of cocaine weighing some 200 kilograms.

Several foreign tankers enter the Atlantic port frequently to load LNG before leaving for their destinations.

Sources say they are still trying to ascertain whether the bales were placed while the ship was docked, or whether the ship had entered Trinidad and Tobago waters unknowingly with the illegal shipment.

This is the second time that the vessel has visited Trinidad and Tobago, having come here in January this year.

The vessel is registered in Spain.

- by Mark Bassant











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