22 Jul 2004

Nine men in Marshalls likely to face cocaine charges

10:17 am on 22 July 2004

Nine men in the Marshall Islands are facing criminal charges for possession or distribution of cocaine.

That is more than the combined total of people charged with drug-related cases in the country in the past five years.

Law enforcement officials have indicated that the sudden proliferation of cocaine charges stems largely from people gaining access to cocaine that washed up on a beach in Kwajalein Atoll earlier this year.

A total of about 30 bricks of cocaine, of about a kilogramme each, are believed to have washed ashore on Kwajalein, which is home to the US Army's top-secret missile testing range.

About 12,000 Marshall Islanders, many of whom work at the missile range, live on Ebeye Island in the atoll.