The Chinese crew of a commercial ship, which was escorted into Hobart, have been charged with drug smuggling. Nearly 200 bricks of cocaine were found on board

21 December 2016

Around 200 bricks of cocaine, with an estimated street value of $60 million, have been found on a commercial ship which was escorted into Hobart, Australia last week.

The 50-metre vessel was intercepted by the Australian Border Force (ABF) on 12 December 2016 after it was seen acting suspiciously.

It was escorted into Hobart where the crew were arrested and a thorough search of the vessel was carried out.

The authorities say around 186 kilograms of cocaine was found concealed in sacks and barrels on the ship.

The ten Chinese crew members have subsequently been charged with trying to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.

They have appeared in Hobart’s Magistrate Court. None of them entered a plea and all were denied bail.

They will re-appear in court on 13 January 2017.


16 December 2016

The crew of a boat suspected of being involved in drug smuggling have been arrested after their boat was intercepted and escorted into Hobart, Australia.

Today (16 December 2016), officers with the Australian Border Force (ABF) with the assistance of Tasmania Police will examine the commercial vessel.

According to a media release from the ABF, the boat was being monitored by ABF’s Maritime Border Command.

The vessel was subsequently tracked moving south down the west coast of Australia, across the Great Australian Bight and towards the Tasmanian coastline.

“On Monday 12 December, Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel from HMAS Adelaide intercepted and boarded the vessel under the direction of the ABF’s Maritime Border Command, on the basis of the vessel’s suspected involvement in illicit drug smuggling,” said the statement.

“HMAS Adelaide escorted the vessel to Hobart where the vessel will be searched and the crew interviewed by federal and state authorities.”

Speaking at a press conference, the Australian Border Force regional commander James Watson said a “significant quantity” of drugs were expected to be found on board the 50-metre vessel.

“We can say it’s a significant quantity, it’s a big vessel,” he said.

“It’s going to take some time to search that vessel and we need to work slowly and methodically through that process with law enforcement partners to be able to get a precise figure, that will come out in due course,” continued the commander.

“Working with the ADF we determined some time ago that we needed to board it, but as you can appreciate given the size of the distances involved and weather, that boarding took place on December 12.”

Commander Watson said the boat’s movements attracted suspicion.

“It was circling in an area outside of the economic zone more than 200 nautical miles off the southern coast of Australia,” he told journalists.

Commander Watson said the examination of the vessel could take up to a week.

He said the 10 crew members of the former research vessel were believed to be Chinese nationals, and hadn’t resisted arrest.