Major drug bust in Antiguan waters
June 11, 2004

Major drug bust in Antiguan waters

Venezuelans and Colombians detained

St. John’s, Antigua – Authorities in Antigua have revealed the seizure of 184 bales of compressed marijuana from a Venezuelan ship.
The raid was carried out based on a tip-off
by the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP) in collaboration with the Antigua
and Barbuda Defence Force Coast Guard, on Tuesday night last week. {{more}}
Acting Director of the ONDCP, Alec Vanderpoole, said that the vessel San Francisco II, flying a Venezuelan flag, was intercepted after 8 p.m. between seven and ten miles off the east coast of Antigua. He said that the crew of the 50-foot trawler, two Colombians and five Venezuelans, were detained by police for questioning.
One of the Colombians was detained at the Holberton Hospital suffering from complications related to diabetes.
The crew members were last Wednesday taken to the defence force headquarters where the vessel was off loaded in their presence.
The authorities contacted the Venezuelan ambassador and a translator who advised the detainees of the search procedures and their rights.
Each bail, containing 45 individually wrapped bricks of what has been identified as cannabis, was opened, weighed, recorded and resealed in the presence of the detainees.
The drug haul, believed to be the largest in the history of the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force Coast Guard (established in 1995), is estimated at having a street value of US$10 million.
The Acting Director of ONDCP, Alec Vanderpoole, and the Operations Officer of the Coast Guard, Lieutenant Skerritt, outlined that
the collaborative efforts
of both units resulted in the interception of the drugs, which is widely believed to have been destined for Antigua and Barbuda.
Vanderpoole outlined that both the ONDCP and ABDFCG, in collaboration with the local police, immigration and customs departments, will continue to work closely in ensuring that illegal activities in and around Antigua and Barbuda are curtailed.
The seven individuals were expected to be charged with the importation and trafficking of drugs which carries a maximum sentence of ten years. Stiffer sentences could be handed down if the matter goes to the High Court.