On Thursday, twenty-two Thai nationals were arrested on the Nigerian Navy (NNS) vessel, Beecroft, Apapa, Lagos, for allegedly attempting to smuggle 32.9 kg of cocaine from Brazil to Nigeria.
The suspects, who are sailors, were arrested aboard MV Chayanee Naree by the joint team following an intelligence report from the British border forces.
It was learned that the cargo ship which left Santos, Brazil on September 19, 2021, was discovered by UK Border Force to be heading for Nigeria.
The 22 crew members are being held on board the ship at the Lagos port complex while the investigation continues.
NNS Beecroft Commander Commodore Bashir Mohammed while speaking to the media about the arrest, said the meeting was intended to inform the public about a development in the country’s maritime environment that affects a recent sting operation carried out by the joint efforts of the Nigerian Navy and other law enforcement agencies, including Interpol, the Nigerian Customs Service, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the NDLEA.
Commodore Mohammed said that the joint security team acted on the basis of credible information from Interpol leading to naval officers who began tracking a ship, MV Chayanee Naree, suspected of smuggling narcotics into Nigeria.
He said that using the Nigerian Navy’s Falcon Eye Maritime Domain Awareness System, the security team began monitoring the ship’s movement.
He said 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,” he added
The Customs Area Controller, Apapa Command, Ibrahim Malanta Yusuf, speaking on the arrest and seizure, said that it is gratifying to note that the success of the operation is due to the excellent synergy and collaboration between NN, Interpol Nigeria, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and the Nigerian Customs Service.
He said that as the joint investigation progresses and the search for the ship continues, additional information about the case will be released to the press.
“The desired end state by all parties involved in the prosecution of all those involved in this nefarious act according to the laws of the land,” he added.
Participants of the event include the representative of the NDLEA president, Mrs Mercy Thompson, the representative of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Head of Interpol Lagos, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Nwogwu Martins.