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Pacific Basin bulker and crew arrested in Nigeria after cocaine seized

Pacific Basin bulker and crew arrested in Nigeria after cocaine seized
Gary Dixon 1 Aug 2023

Officials discover 24 kg of drugs on board the Cooper Island

A Pacific Basin supramax bulker and its crew of 20 have been arrested in Nigeria following a drugs seizure.

The Daily Trend reported that 24 kg of cocaine was found on the 58,000-dwt Cooper Island (built 2014).

The vessel was first intercepted on 6 July at Tin Can Island in Lagos, the report said.

On Friday, the Federal High Court ordered its arrest by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) until 17 August.

The court also ordered the arrest of the master and 19 other seafarers until an investigation has been completed. There is no suggestion the crew members were involved in the smuggling.

The Hong Kong-flagged vessel was said to be importing sugar from Brazil.

Pacific Basin confirmed that a number of suspicious packages were found on the ship by the NDLEA on 6 July.

“All relevant parties have been informed and the crew of the Cooper Island have been interviewed as per routine procedure. The crew of the vessel are being assisted by solicitors and surveyors, and we are working diligently with authorities for the safe onward passage for all crew members and the vessel,” the company added.

“The master and crew with the support of the P&I club lawyer, is continuing to assist the authorities with the investigation,” Pacific Basin said.

The company added it takes any situation involving the illegal carriage of drugs with the utmost seriousness.

The owner is providing every support to the master and crew while cooperating fully with authorities and police investigations.

Nigerian prosecutors said the case is being probed together with Interpol and other overseas agencies.

The NDLEA worked with the navy and port security officials on the operation.

The captain and crew members have made “useful extra-judicial statements” to help the investigation, prosecutors added.

The Cooper Island left Santos in Brazil on 19 June, according to AIS data.

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Nigeria Holds Bulker and Crew After Finding Cocaine Hidden in its Cargo