Solomon Islands Police makes massive cocaine seizure on boat

A Forensic officer in Solomon Islands recording the amount of cocaine being off-loaded from the yacht Vieux Malin in Honiara. Photo: Supplied

HONIARA,01 OCTOBER 2018 (SOLOMON STAR) – Officers from the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) have successfully worked with Australian authorities on a joint investigation which has resulted in the seizure of suspected cocaine on a yacht in Honiara.

Although forensic work is currently ongoing, it is assessed this is a large commercial shipment of cocaine of several hundred kilograms.

The joint investigation involved the RSIPF, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), NSW Police Force (NSWPF) and Australian Border Force (ABF).

RSIPF officers boarded the Vieux Malin – a double-masted yacht–outside the Honiara marina after receiving information from Australian authorities.

The cocaine was concealed in a cavity behind a false wall panel in the interior of the yacht.

It was alleged that the cocaine was loaded onto the yacht in South America and sailed to Honiara. The alleged organisers in Australia were making arrangements to bring the yacht to Australia just before it was searched by the RSIPF.

Australian authorities have been conducting their own concurrent operations in Australia.

RSIPF Commissioner Matthew Varley said the seizure marked the end of a long-running investigation in Australia and Solomon Islands.

“This is the largest seizure of cocaine in Solomon Islands history, and I need to congratulate all of the RSIPF members who participated in this operation,” Commissioner Varley said.

“It will be alleged that the cocaine was destined for Australia, but it is important we send the message that the Solomon Islands will not be exploited by organised crime as a transit point for their evil trade.”

“A great deal of forensic work is currently underway, including gathering evidence that can be used in the courts. Australian Federal Police (AFP) forensic experts and investigators are working with RSIPF officers in Honiara to jointly process the crime scene.”

“The RSIPF equally pays tribute to the Australian Federal Police and other Australian and international law enforcement agencies who have worked together on this truly joint operation. This again demonstrates that international law enforcement cooperation is the key to dismantling and disrupting transnational crime syndicates targeting the Pacific.”

The RSIPF is further asking for anyone in Honiara who may have seen or met the crew of the vessel or have any knowledge of the vessel at all, to come forward with any information they may have by contacting the National Criminal Investigations Department (NCID) at Rove Headquarters.

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