Flying high: Stash of cocaine is found in ship used to transport rockets to and from European spaceport in French Guiana
- Cocaine found in a ship used to transport rocket elements to & from spaceport
- Suspicious package found when cargo ship preparing to depart Pariacabo port
- Workers immediately alerted authorities, and 8kg of cocaine was discovered
- A source close to the investigation described the incident as ‘not at all usual’
A stash of cocaine has been found in a ship used to transport rocket elements to and from the European spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana, South America.
The surprise load was uncovered when the cargo ship, which normally carries elements of Europe’s Ariane, Soyuz and Vega rockets, was preparing to depart the Pariacabo port on Monday, August 5.
The ship was destined for France, Samuel Finielz, prosecutor of French Guiana’s capital Cayenne, said late Thursday.
A stash of cocaine was found in a ship used to transport rocket elements to and from the European spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana, South America
A suspicious package was uncovered as the cargo ship was preparing to depart from Pariacabo port (pictured in 2007) bound for France on Monday, August 5
According to local media reports, an alarm was triggered as the cargo was being maneuvered, and a container fixed discreetly to the vessel’s hull fell into the water.
Port staff quickly alerted authorities after they discovered a suspicious package and officers from the Maritime Gendarmerie arrived on the scene to investigate.
‘There was just under eight kilos of cocaine inside,’ Finielz told AFP.
A source close to the investigation described the incident as ‘not at all usual’, and said the cargo of merchant vessels – unlike that of cruise ships – was usually very well monitored.
‘It is hard to comprehend how drugs could have been found in what is meant to be a secure place: the port of Pariacabo, which is attached to the Guiana space centre,’ added the source.
France’s CNES space agency and commercial launch company Arianespace have not responded to requests for comment.
The European Space Agency (ESA), CNES and Arianespace conduct launches from Kourou which has been operational since the 1960s.