Liberian authorities have seized nearly 2.5 tons of cocaine, a record seizure for the country, from a ship off the African country's coast, officials said.
Maritime officials in Monrovia said the ship, the Blue Atlantic, was intercepted this week off the Liberian coast and the large drug shipment was allegedly found inside several barrels on board, the BBC reported Saturday.
"It is huge; if this had hit the Liberian market, it would have destroyed the entire country," Monrovia Port Security head Ashford Pearl said of Thursday's record discovery.
South American drug cartels are thought to routinely travel along the African coast in their attempts to transport illegal drugs to Europe.
Pearl said the vessel's crew members were all from Uganda and the ship was intercepted in cooperation with a French military vessel.
I stand corrected: As tyronebcookin correctly points out in a comment below, the nine crew members of the "Blue Atlantic Monrovia" were all Ghanaians.
Here's a little more on what is a strangely fascinating story from AllAfrica.com:
According to the Captain of the French navy, a specially designed instrument was used to determine the ship's position. He said the Blue Atlantic had nine crewmembers that are all Ghanaians with the 90 barrels of cocaine on board. Each of the 90 barrels contained 18-19 parcels and each parcel is valued at 17,000 Euro.
Speaking shortly following the turning over ceremony, Justice Minister Philip A.Z. Banks said the ship might have been heading for Liberia, as a communication was received from the ship previously and wanted an emergency docking at the Liberian Port in early January but that was not done. Experts say the cocaine is about 2.4 tons and valued half a Billion United States Dollars.
Following hours of elongated debate on how sure the cocaine would be annihilated, officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advised that the drug be dumped into the ocean.
Prior to the EPA advise, security officials argued that the drug be burnt but EPA staff present at the Freeport vehemently resisted the suggestion.
Meanwhile latest report reaching this paper says the cocaine burnt at the Freeport of Monrovia following series of consultations by stakeholders does not augur well with the EPA and has therefore denounced the flagrant act, terming it 'non-environmental friendly.'