Dutch Royal Navy intercepts drug vessel

WILLEMSTAD — During the weekend, the Dutch Royal Navy in the Caribbean area had intercepted a vessel carrying as much as 317 kilos of cocaine.


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The narcotics were found on a Panamanian merchant vessel that was en route to Honduras from Columbia. The seven crewmembers were arrested.

Hr. Ms. Van Speijk had intercepted the drug vessel. It had not been possible to search the merchant vessel at sea due to bad weather conditions, and because all compartments on board had not been accessible due to the cargo. Therefore, the choice had been made to divert to the Panamanian harbor Colon in order to conduct a thorough inspection. The American ‘Law Enforcement Detachment’, a boarding team of the American Coastguard that is specifically stationed on the board the ship for drug combating operations, had conducted the inspection – with the assistance of the American Coastguard cutter Tampa.
The team had discovered ten sacks totaling 317 kilos of cocaine in a hidden compartment of a fuel tank. The discovery of this compartment had only been possible after the fuel had been pumped from the tank into another vessel. A drug test confirmed it regarded cocaine. The seven crewmembers were handed over to the authorities in Panama.
This action of intercepting the vessel had been the last operational deployment of the Van Speijk during its term as station ship of the West in the Caribbean area. "To accomplish such a large catch at the last moment, was motivating", says the commander, captain-lieutenant Peter Reesink. The Van Speijk had previously been successful in the Caribbean area. The ship had intercepted a drug transport on April 21st, 896 kilos of marihuana on October 19th last year, and had been responsible for the record drug catch of 4200 kilos of cocaine in the Caribbean area in 2008.
In addition to defending the territory of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, the Defense fulfills an important role in upholding the international legal order. In this respect, it mainly regards the combating of international drug trade at sea – in view of the islands’ location. For instance, the navy in the Caribbean area is closely integrated in the international drug combating operation ‘Joint Inter Agency Task Force South’ in Key West. The Commander of Naval Forces in the Caribbean area is therefore also Commander of Task-group 4.4, one of the task-groups of this organization.