Two Montenegrin Sailors Charged in Australia With Cocaine Smuggling

Packages of the cocaine seized by Australian police on the cargo ship St Pinot. Photo: Australian Federal Police.Photo: Australian Federal Police

Australian authorities reported that Pinot's captain, M. B., and its chief engineer, R.V., both from Montenegro, were charged with smuggling cocaine worth 375 million US dollars, believed to have come from South America.

On May 31, Australian Federal Police and Border Force officers discovered the 29 packages of cocaine after receiving an SOS call from a smaller cabin cruiser off Rottnest Island.

"Royal Australian Navy clearance divers retrieved 29 large packages wrapped in blue plastic from the water and another package was retrieved once the tank was drained. Each of the 29 packages contains numerous one-kilogram blocks of cocaine," the police said.

Police reported that two Montenegrin citizens who had been on the cabin cruiser were arrested In Perth while the third member of the crew was arrested in Sydney as he tried to board a flight.

Police said they were charged with attempting to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, stressing they face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if convicted.

Trafficking has become a lucrative trade for some seafarers in Montenegro, a former Yugoslav republic of some 630,000 people steeped in maritime history but which for decades has served as a transit point for illicit cigarettes and drugs.

According to official data, since 2018, Montenegrin sailors have been arrested in seven separate police operations around the world, involving the seizure of more than 30 tonnes of drugs.

In October 2009, the country made world headlines after two tonnes of cocaine were seized on a boat off the Uruguayan coast in an...

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