Seafarers Charged in Connection with S. Korea Cocaine Shipment

Courtesy Central Regional Maritime Police Agency

Published Oct 30, 2019 5:08 PM by The Maritime Executive

Two seafarers have been charged in connection with an alleged attempt to smuggle 100 kilos of cocaine into the South Korean port of Taean in August. It represents the largest cocaine seizure by Korea's maritime police ever. 

On August 25, South Korean Central Regional Maritime Police Agency officers and Korea Customs Service agents interdicted the bulk carrier Golden Savannah at the port of Taean after receiving a tip from the U.S. Coast Guard about a suspected cocaine shipment. The unnamed ship had departed Colombia in July and was carrying coal for delivery to Taean's power plant. The officers boarded the bulker at an anchorage just off the port, and after a thorough inspection, they found four bags containing packaged cocaine in the ship's chain locker. 

The ship's 20 crewmembers all denied knowledge of the shipment, but inspectors pulled bridge audio recordings from the ship's VDR and discovered evidence of a conversation about the drugs. The first suspect allegedly asked the second whether the "cocaine [was] well kept" in the compartment. 

No evidence has been found to indicate knowledge or involvement on the part of the ship's master. However, the captain faces allegations of falsely reporting that the vessel had no drugs on board, according to Korean media. 

Korean authorities suspect that the drugs were intended for transshipment to another destination, as South Korea has a limited cocaine consumption market.