World / Crime & Legal

Marshalls fisherman hauls in 48 kg of cocaine

AFP-JIJI

A fisherman in the Marshall Islands has netted 48 kilograms (106 pounds) of cocaine.

The white powder, professionally wrapped and taped in plastic bags, has a street value of about $4 million, police said Friday.

“We’re pretty sure we got all of it,” deputy police commissioner Robson Almen added, saying there was no indication the packs had broken out from a larger bundle.

Almen said the fisherman called the police when he found the drugs last week while trawling off Kwajalein Atoll, 494 kilometers (307 miles) from the capital, Majuro.

Marshall Islands law enforcement personnel have requested U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency assistance because the western Pacific territory does not have a laboratory capable of confirming the substance is cocaine.

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.