Italian police have seized more than 20 tons of hashish, 400 thousand litres of diesel and the ship that transported them, ‘ Remus’, flying the Panamanian flag.
The Guardia di Finanza arrested the crew members: 11 people from Montenegro.
The ship, was escorted to the port of Palermo for inspection. The investigation was triggered from a careful intelligence information gathering and analysis of the routes followed by the boat that, after leaving from the port of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria where it declared to be directed to the port of Tuzla (Turkey), via Alexandria (Egypt).
The shadowing activity of the boat, carried out with the use of aircraft and offshore patrol boats of the Guardia di Finanza, allowed to verify the suspicious behaviour, namely that while sailing in international waters in front of the North African coasts – it has repeatedly turned off its AIS (Automatic Identification System) transmitter to conceal its position and movements. The obvious anomalies that emerged during the constant monitoring of navigation have made it possible to hypothesise the involvement in the international trafficking of drugs which, in recent years, has often seen the North African countries as protagonists.
At the time of boarding by enforcement officers, the suspicious behaviour of the Captain of the ship and of the crew, who were not able to provide clear explanations about their activities at sea and their destination, urged the military to escort the boat at the the port of Palermo.
The presence on board of 18 tanks containing altogether about 400,000 litres of diesel that could not be adequately inspected at sea.
The complex manoeuvres for the emptying of two bow tanks, containing 20,000 litres of diesel, allowed to find, completely submerged in the fuel, over 650 jute bags containing, altogether, over 20 tons of hashish, of 13 different qualities, for a value market share between 150 and 200 million euro.