Marshall Islands fisherman nets US$4 million bundle of cocaine
- The remote archipelago is on the northern trans-Pacific drug route from South America to Asia and has a history of cocaine finds
A fisherman in the Marshall Islands netted more than he bargained for when he hauled in his catch to find a suspected 48kg (106 pounds) of cocaine.
The white powder, professionally wrapped and taped in plastic bags, had a street value of about US$4 million, police said on Friday.
“We’re pretty sure we got all of it,” deputy police commissioner Robson Almen said, adding there was no indication the packs had broken off a larger bundle.
Almen said the fisherman called the police when he found the drugs last week while trawling off Kwajalein Atoll, 494km (307 miles) from the capital Majuro.
Marshall Islands law enforcement personnel have requested US Drug Enforcement Administration help as the western Pacific territory does not have a laboratory capable of confirming the substance is cocaine.
However, the remote archipelago, which is on the northern trans-Pacific cocaine route from South America to Asia, has a history of cocaine finds.
Between 2002 and 2009, bundles of cocaine and boats with cocaine on board were found washed up on beaches around the Marshall Islands on at least six occasions.
“This indicates a very substantial and long-established cocaine trade, and one on a massive scale,” according to a 2012 report in the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter, an Australia-based military and law enforcement-related website.