Yesterday, the Australian police arrested five crew members of the bulk carrier "ST Pinot", on which about 900 kilograms of cocaine were found two weeks ago in the local port of Kwinana.
Among those arrested, as "Vijesti" unofficially learns, are Montenegrin citizens, one of whom is the captain of the ship, Captain Milan Begović from Luštica.
After a two-week detailed investigation, the Australian authorities found enough grounds to connect Begović and four other sailors from the supramax, which flies the flag of the Marshall Islands, to the illegal shipment of narcotics found on the "ST Pinot".
The value of the seized cocaine on the black market is estimated at around 375 million Australian dollars.
On May 27, after a five-week voyage from South America, the ST Pinot arrived at the Kwinana bulk terminal near the port of Frementle in Western Australia. There, members of the Australian Federal Police and border services, acting on previously collected intelligence, raided the ship and soon found almost 900 kilograms of cocaine on it.
The drugs, packed in 29 watertight packages, were hidden in one of the ballast tanks of the 190-meter-long bulk carrier.
At least eight to ten crew members of this 58.000-ton bulker are allegedly Montenegrin citizens.
The Australian police received information that at the end of May, a smuggling operation of an international criminal cartel will be carried out in the waters of Western Australia, in which a large quantity of packaged drugs will be thrown into the sea from a merchant ship, which will then be picked up by a smaller vessel and brought to the shore and hand over to the Australian branch of that criminal organization.
The police arrested three men - two Australians and one Lithuanian, who were on a 10-meter motor boat called "No Fixed Address", and which the maritime services of that country found on the open sea, near the island of Rottnest, about 22 kilometers from Fremantle. .
The three men who found themselves on the boat had very little seafaring experience and claimed that their engine had failed, causing them to float on the ocean. They told the authorities unconvincing stories, which, along with the fact that they had bought the boat they were caught on only the day before with cash, led the Australian police to suspect that it was the Australian part of the smuggling ring they were looking for.
Therefore, those three young men were arrested and accused of international drug smuggling, for which, if they are convicted, they face life imprisonment.
On the basis of information about the movement of the "No Fixed Address" boat, the Australian Police and Border Service began an investigation of merchant ships that were in the vicinity of the position of the small vessel. At the same time, the movement of the bulker "ST Pinot", under the command of a captain from Montenegro, turned out to be in accordance with what the Australian authorities had previously learned through intelligence, so Australian police officers boarded the cargo ship under the Marshall Islands flag immediately after its arrival in the port of Fremantle. , border guards and customs officials and began the search.
The ship was officially stopped, transferred to the mooring at the Kwinana terminal and thoroughly searched, and soon 29 plastic waterproof packages were found in one of the ballast tanks of the "ST Pinot", which contained a total of almost 900 kilograms of high purity cocaine.
The hidden drugs were found and removed from the washed-up tank by specially trained anti-mine divers of the Australian Navy.
Although they interviewed the crew of the "ST Pinot", the police did not immediately find enough evidence to directly connect the sailors from that freighter with the drugs found. Nevertheless, the ship was stopped and it was forbidden to sail, so for the past two weeks, an intensive investigation has been going on continuously, which yesterday resulted in the arrest of the commander of the "ST Pinot", Captain Milan Begović, and four more of his officers and sailors.
The ship was returned to Fremantle and, according to unofficial information, after unloading the remaining cargo, it will be subjected to an additional detailed search, because it is suspected that there are more drugs hidden on the "ST Pinot"...
By the way, this is already one of the largest seizures of smuggled narcotics in the history of Australia.