Drugs and weapons found onboard Höegh ship raided in Mombasa

Drugs and weapons found onboard Höegh ship raided in Mombasa

Authorities in Mombasa have found drugs and weapons onboard a Höegh Autoliners pure car and truck carrier (PCTC), which was raided at the port on September 18.

The illegal cargo was found inside the tyres of three military trucks being carried by the Hoegh Transporter (6,500 ceu, built 1999), local reports say.

The search operation is still continuing, with around 90% of the vessel’s cargo already having been inspected.

The vessel’s master and crew have been detained by US and Kenyan police over the contraband cargo, local reports say.

An official told Kenya’s Star newspaper the weapons are believed to have smuggled onboard the vessel when it called in Mumbai, its previous port of call. AIS data shows the vessel called at the Indian port on September 7.

The drugs were in crystal form and are believed to be cocaine, the source said.

Another source told the paper it was possible the vessel could be blown up after the search is completed, on an “executive order” from Kenya’s president.

The vessel is fully laden with 3,983 vehicles, including cars from Dubai and Japan and 257 UN vehicles, destined for various locations including peacekeeping missions in the Democratic of Congo and South Sudan.

Indian authorities are believed to have shared intelligence with Kenya about the illegal cargo suspected to be onboard after the vessel had left Mumbai.

The ship was intercepted by the Kenyan Navy as it entered the country’s waters on Thursday night and escorted to the berth, where it was boarded by Kenyan forces and US detectives.

In August, Kenyan authorities reportedly blew up a yacht that was found trying to smuggle in 7.6kg of heroin worth $200,000 into the country while underway off the Kenyan coast.

Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.

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