Tenerife drugs in vessel ballast tank

Agents of the National Police, in a joint operation with the Civil Guard and the Tax Agency, within the framework of a joint action, have seized 2,000 kilos of cocaine in the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife that was hidden in the ballast tank of a merchant.

The characteristics of the vessel and the method of concealment have made it necessary to carry out a thorough inspection of the vessel for more than 15 hours to detect the drugs.

The action, carried out on December 18, resulted in the seizure of drugs and the arrest of six people, of which five were crew members of the ship.

Agencia Tributaria in its statement said the operation began at 9 in the morning on the 18th, coinciding with the arrival at the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife of the ship ‘Grande Francia’, flying the Italian flag.

It is a 214 meter long vessel, one of the so-called ‘Ro-Ro’ vessels, which transports roll-on/roll-off cargo.

The merchant ship came from Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) with its next destination in the French port of Marseille.

Upon the ship’s arrival in Tenerife, a joint team made up of agents from the National Police and Civil Guard and officials from the Tax Agency, proceeded to carry out one of the so-called ‘anchoring visits’, with several relays over more than 15 hours in which all the ship’s facilities were inspected.

During the inspection, a ballast tank from the merchant caught the attention of the detection team.

Once the tank was opened, a large number of burlap packages were found inside. Inside the tank, a total of 69 bales were detected, yielding a total gross weight of 2,055 kilos of cocaine.

Along with the drug bales, various material was found like life jackets, geolocation devices, ropes, food, etc.

In addition to the seizure of the narcotic substance, six people were arrested: five crew members of the ship – one of Italian nationality, another Romanian, and three from the Philippines – and a Filipino citizen who was staying on the island at that time.