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Venezuelan boat sinks, 700 pounds of cocaine recovered

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A cocaine laden vessel ran aground in the vicinity of the Tobago Cays last week, and there are fears that cocaine from the wreckage may have been salvaged by locals.{{more}}

A Venezuelan fishing boat “Dona Antonieta 1” was intercepted about 1,000 miles off St Vincent and the Grenadines during a joint United States and British operation.

Seven crew members of the boat were arrested and are in Venezuelan custody.

When the boat was being towed, it got loose and drifted, and later hit a reef off the Tobago Cays and sank.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that some 700 lbs of cocaine were recovered by Vincentian Coast Guard officers, who got involved in the operation because the boat sank in Vincentian territorial waters.

One Coast Guard source told SEARCHLIGHT that the boat was carrying much more cocaine than the 700 or so pounds recovered by local Coast Guard.

The same source said that police are looking for a quantity of cocaine from the wreckage, believed to be in the possession of locals who got access to the floating packages of destruction.

Meanwhile, speaking at a press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said that he had been briefed on the incident.

He said that Venezuela, Britain, and St Vincent and the Grenadines are all interested in making sure that anyone that has been trafficking narcotics is brought to justice “in a forum where they have relevant laws to deal with it.”

When questioned about reports circulating that one of the occupants of the boat was killed, Dr Gonsalves said he was not aware of any fatality.

The occupants of the boat are believed to be in Venezuelan custody.

Work was also continuing by rangers of the Tobago Cays Marine Park to clean up the debris left when the boat ran aground.

Director of the Marine Park Vibert Dublin told SEARCHLIGHT that the clean up was going well.

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