Police on the Marshall Islands in the Pacific found the largest-ever haul in their nation’s history when they recovered around $80 million worth of cocaine from an abandoned boat that washed ashore.
Police retrieved the 18-foot fiberglass boat at Ailuk atoll last week when local residents were unable to move the vessel, saying it was too heavy.
A photo on December 15, 2020, shows Marshall Islands Police Captain Eric Jorban, (L), emptying one-kilo packages of cocaine into an incinerator in Majuro from an 18-foot fiberglass boat washed up on Ailuk Atoll, a remote atoll with about 400 people, in the Marshall Islands last week with 649 kilos (1,340 pounds) of cocaine sealed in its hold under the deck. (Photo by Giff JOHNSON / AFP) (Photo by GIFF JOHNSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Upon inspection, the police discovered 1,430 pounds of cocaine hidden beneath the deck, the BBC reported.
Attorney General Richard Hickson speculated that the vessel likely drifted across the ocean from Central or South America.
A photo on December 15, 2020, shows Marshall Islands police loading a box filled with one-kilo “bricks” of cocaine into a police pickup truck from a patrol vessel that transported the cocaine from a remote outer atoll to Majuro for confiscation and destruction. – An 18-foot fiberglass boat was found washed up on Ailuk Atoll, a remote atoll with about 400 people, in the Marshall Islands last week with 649 kilos (1,340 pounds) of cocaine sealed in its hold under the deck. (Photo by Giff JOHNSON / AFP) (Photo by GIFF JOHNSON/AFP via Getty Images)
“It could have been drifting for a year or two,” Hickson said, according to Al-Jazeera.
The packages of drugs were marked with the letters KW.
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Police tried to remove the cocaine by burning the packages on Tuesday, but two packages were retained to give to US Drug Enforcement for analysis.
The islands often see debris wash up from the Americas. In a famous incident in 2014, a fisherman reached the islands after drifting over from Mexico, the Daily Mail reported.
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The University of Hawaii researchers conducted 16 computer simulations of drift patterns from the Mexico coast and found nearly all eventually arrived in the Marshall Islands.