Que­bec sailors arrested in Caribbean af­ter drug-laden boat set ablaze

Af­ter con­trol­ling the fire, law en­force­ment found 1.5 tons of co­caine, es­ti­mated to be worth about $300 mil­lion.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

Two Que­bec men face charges in the Caribbean af­ter a drug-laden yacht in which they had been sailing burst into flames while be­ing es­corted by law en­force­ment.

Dur­ing the night of Thurs­day, July 19, French bor­der agents pa­trolling the waters off of the French An­tilles in the Caribbean Sea in­ter­cepted a sail­boat with a small blue fleurde-lys em­bla­zoned on its side. The sleek, white yacht pitched and rolled on the open sea in what Jean-Damien Moustier, the head of the French gov­ern­ment’s Caribbean anti- drug traf­fick­ing unit, called dif­fi­cult con­di­tions.

“There were large waves,” he said. “It was com­pli­cated and the coast guard wasn’t able to quickly con­trol the boat.”

Un­able to board, agents be­gan es­cort­ing the sail­boat, called the Livie, to the nearby port of St-Martin.

The ships sailed through the night un­til, at 10 a.m., the Livie burst into flames. The two Que­be­cers bobbed nearby in a life raft. Moustier al­leges they set the ves­sel on fire in an at­tempt to sink it be­fore au­thor­i­ties could seize its cargo. The yacht’s masts caught fire and fell amid clouds of smoke. Six hours later, bor­der agents and fire­fight­ers had the blaze un­der con­trol and were able to in­spect the badly charred boat. Be­low decks they found no less than 1.5 tons of co­caine, an amount that Moustier es­ti­mated would be worth about $300 mil­lion on the Cana­dian mar­ket.

Moustier said that the Livie prob­a­bly picked up its co­caine ship­ment off the coast of Venezuela. He spec­u­lated that, had it not been in­ter­cepted, it would have sailed up the East Coast of the United States and de­liv­ered it to be sold in Mon­treal and else­where in the prov­ince.

The two Que­bec men, aged 53 and 55, are in a Mar­tinique prison af­ter hav­ing appeared be­fore a judge on Tues­day in Fort-de-France to face charges of drug traf­fick­ing, crim­i­nal as­so­ci­a­tion and de­struc­tion of goods by dan­ger­ous means.

Moustier said that his or­ga­ni­za­tion is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the smug­gling op­er­a­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.