Record amount of drugs seized in joint op off Sicily
The Turkish and Italian narcotics teams have seized a record 5.3 tons of drugs in a joint operation on a Palau-flagged cargo ship off the coast of Sicily.
When the ship named Plutus entered Turkish territorial waters in 2022, the narcotic units received intelligence suggesting the presence of drugs onboard. However, upon investigation, the ship was not actively carrying any contraband at that time and was allowed to continue its voyage.
Months later, in June this year, the Turkish units detected similar suspicious activities on Plutus after it sailed from the Canary Islands and crossed the Strait of Gibraltar. Concerned by the findings, the Turkish units promptly reported the situation to international police agencies, including the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre-Narcotics (MAOC-N).
Based on the information provided by the Turkish narcotics teams, the Italian police took charge of the operation and conducted a meticulous follow-up on Plutus. On July 19, the day of the operation, as the ship was being unloaded onto a fishing boat approaching off the coast of Sicily, the Italian authorities swiftly moved in and made the seizure.
The value of the confiscated narcotics is estimated to be in excess of billion dollars, reflecting the magnitude of the criminal network involved in the illicit drug trade.