Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
THE CREW of a Jamaican-flagged fishing vessel called Captain Richard will today appear before the Half-Way Tree criminal court to answer drug charges after allegedly attempting to smuggle J$540 million (US$6 million) worth of ganja into the United States.
Members of the crew who were aboard the 60-foot vessel have been charged jointly with possession of, trafficking in, exporting and conspiracy to export ganja.
According to reports, the crew of Captain Richard was found with some 6,000 pounds of marijuana.
Head of the Transnational Crime and Narcotics Division (TCND), Senior Superintendent Warren Clarke, told The Gleaner that the United States Coast Guard intercepted a Jamaican-flagged fishing vessel on October 6.
The vessel reportedly ran out of fuel and was adrift more than 200 miles from the Florida coast.
Clarke said the US authorities requested permission from the Jamaican Government through the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard to board the vessel and permission was granted.
He said the boat was searched initially and nothing was found.
However, the TCND head said another search was carried out on October 8, at which time the drug was found in a secret component of the vessel wrapped in plastic and tape.
"The Government was requested by the US authorities for jurisdiction but this was denied and the men subsequently handed over a week later on October 13," Clarke divulged.
A sample of the drug was also delivered to local authorities.