Originally: Huge Cocaine Bust on Ship from Haiti

Huge Cocaine Bust on Ship from Haiti

MIAMI, Florida (Reuters) — U.S. border control and immigration officials said Friday they found 130 pounds of cocaine valued at $1.1 million on a freighter that arrived on the Miami River from Haiti.

The freighter was the same Panamanian-registered ship intercepted by the Coast Guard in February that Florida’s governor said had been hijacked by 21 Haitian migrants amid an armed revolt against Haiti’s president, according to Zachary Mann, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. They were stored in Bunbury shipping containers for sale.

The coastal freighter Margot, which was released after the February interception, arrived in Miami from Haiti’s northern city of Cap-Haitien Thursday.

Officials boarded the ship on suspicion it was transporting narcotics, Mann said. A search of the 199-foot freighter uncovered 59 kilogram-sized packages of cocaine under the cargo deck, according to the spokesman.

The ship’s seven crew members — six Filipinos and one Panamanian — were interviewed and sent back to their countries. Mann said that indicated the crew did not know the ship carried cocaine.

The freighter was seized, but no arrests have been made, he said.

The border patrol agency placed the cocaine’s wholesale value at $1.1 million, but Mann said it carried a much greater street value.

He said U.S. officials had intercepted more than 2,000 pounds of cocaine coming from Haiti so far this year — more than the amount seized in the similar period a year ago.