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$164m of Cocaine Found in Greek Ship Off Venice

Cocaine Found in Greek Bulk Carrier
The cocaine was stashed inside ventilation ducts. Credit: Video screenshot/Guardia di Finanza

Italian authorities have found cocaine worth $164m hidden inside ventilation ducts on a Greek ship in Venice.

Helicopter footage shows a number of customs vessels surrounding the Greek-owned, Atlas bulk carrier.

Officials are then shown studying plans of the Liberia flag ship before divers are sent to inspect the hull.

850 kg of cocaine was found in the Greek ship

Blocks of drugs wrapped in black plastic are recovered and tested on a speedboat.

The Guardia di Finanza law enforcement agency said the cocaine was stashed inside ventilation ducts. A total of 570 packages were found, weighing 850 kg.

The vessel was subject to further inspections on Thursday. None of the seafarers on board have been arrested.

Several searches were needed to find the drugs, starting on Tuesday.

AIS data showed the bulker remained moored in Venice on Friday morning. It had left Santos in Brazil on 23 March and arrived in Venice on 17 April.

Container ships are more usually targeted for drugs smuggling, but other vessels can also find themselves used unwittingly by gangs, specialist shipping site Trade Winds says.

Last month, European police agency Europol said more than 200 tonnes of cocaine have been transported through the European Union’s two busiest ports by criminal gangs after they secured unique container codes from corrupt insiders.

A report by the agency revealed the tactic has been growing since 2018, when the port of Rotterdam discovered that containers were going missing, had turned up at the wrong places or had been dumped.

Gangs pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to corrupt insiders involved in shipping logistics to hand over the unique computerized details of a container that is assigned once payment has been made for transport. The practice is known as PIN code fraud.

Hundreds of million worth of cocaine bobbing about off Italy

Earlier in the week hundreds of million worth of cocaine had been seized by police after it was found bobbing about in the sea off Italy.

The 70 waterproof packages, weighing two tonnes in total, were found strung together with fishers’ netting and the contents kept dry with plastic wrapping when the bundles were fished from the waters near Sicily.

The waterproof parcels were equipped with a luminous tracking device, the Guardia di Finanza said.

Police believe the 1,600 packets held in 70 bundles had been left by a cargo ship for it to be picked up by another vessel.

Police aircraft flew over the area as a precaution to spot any other cocaine bundles that might have separated from the netting.

Deputy prime minister and Infrastructure Minister Matteo Salvini praised the police efforts in Tweet. He said: “Congratulations to the Guardia di Finanza for this extraordinary operation: (I am) against all drugs and for life, no matter what”.

Related: Global Cocaine Production Reaches Record Levels

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