23 Aug 2013

Mystery surrounds Vanuatu drugs seizure

4:59 pm on 23 August 2013

Key details about a boat in Port Vila harbour from which Vanuatu customs officers and police seized over 680 kilogrammes of cocaine this week remain a mystery.

The drugs, with a street value of more than 300 million US dollars, were found aboard a yacht known as Raj but renamed Scope, in a joint operation with Australian Federal Police

The biggest cocaine haul in Vanuatu's history, the seizure has been flown to Australia.

Vanuatu police say the country lacks the equipment to test the cocaine's quality, and that it was too risky to keep it in the country.

Vanuatu's Director of Customs, Ben Lishi Votu, says it's not known who owns the ketch, which is registered in British Virgin Islands.

"The vessel of course has now been here for over two years. The first search that was done on this vessel, the results turned out to be negative, there was nothing found, although there was evidence of heroin on the boat revealed by the testings that were done. Unfortunately the cargo was not detected."

Ben Lishi Votu

Police say the cocaine consignment was sent from South America.