No fewer than 22 Thai citizens were detained at the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS), BEECROFT, Apapa, Lagos State, on Thursday.
It was alleged that the foreigners attempted to smuggle 32.9kg cocaine from Brazil to Nigeria.
The joint team arrested the suspects who are sailors, on-board MV CHAYANEE NAREE, following an intelligent report it got from the UK Border Force.
The cargo ship left Santos in Brazil on September 19, 2021, and the UK Border Force discovered that the vessel was heading to Nigeria, report revealed.
All the 22 crewmen are being detained on board the ship at the Lagos Port Complex while the investigation continued.
Confirming the arrest, the Commander of NNS BEECROFT, Commodore Bashir Mohammed, who briefed Journalists on the development, said the sting operation was conducted through collaborative efforts between the Nigerian Navy and other law enforcement agencies including the Interpol, the Nigerian Custom Services, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency.
He explained that the joint security team, acting on credible intelligence from Interpol, naval officers, commenced tracking of a vessel, MV CHAYANEE NAREE, which was suspected of attempting to smuggle narcotics into Nigeria.
Mohammed said, “With the aid of the Nigerian Navy Falcon Eye Maritime Domain Awareness system, the security team started monitoring the movement of the vessel. During the investigation it was discovered that the vessel departed Santos Brazil on September 19, 2021, and drifted for a week at a position about 250nm (approximately 500 kilometres) off the coast of Benin Republic from October 1 to October 8 before setting sail and arriving Nigeria on October 8, 2021.
“Upon entering Nigerian waters, the vessel was intercepted by Nigerian Navy Ship EKULU and escorted to NPA port where she was directed to berth on October 9, 2021, and taken custody by the Navy. Thereafter, other agencies were invited to conduct an extensive and comprehensive search of the vessel for narcotics and other contraband items.
“The suspected vessel was thoroughly searched by a combined team of Nigerian Navy, Interpol Nigeria, Nigerian Customs Service and Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency. The Search began on October 9, 2021, and at about 6 pm on October 13, 2021, the efforts of the search team were rewarded when a bag was found in the Vessel’s Cargo Compartment One.
“Tests conducted on the contents of the bag by the NDLEA confirmed the substance to be cocaine wrapped in 30 slabs weighing 32.9 kg. Accordingly, the substance was handed over to the NDLEA while further search and investigation continued on every nook and cranny of the vessel.”