South Africa fights cocaine smuggling on cargo ships

South African police have said that they have seized their third major haul of cocaine on vessels that sailed from Brazil in less than a month. The latest seizure was on Thursday November 2nd when the police found 35 blocks of cocaine hidden aboard a vessel arriving from Brazil at the Gqeberha Sea Port (formerly known as Port Elizabeth). The police did not say where the drugs were found on the vessel. They said that the ship had been investigated based on intelligence they received.

Local media reports named the vessel was the Zea Servant (IMO 9741126), a 12,300dwt general cargo ship managed from China and which sails under a Hong Kong flag. The police said that the cocaine was traced back to Brazil. The vessel’s AIS signal also shows it had made stops recently in the US.

No arrests were made and the ship has now left South Africa, bound for Mumbai, India. The Herald Live newspaper in South Africa reported that US-based Intermarine/Industrial Maritime Carriers was fighting for the release of its cargo from the ship, which it said had been seized by authorities.

A previous shipment was found hidden in paint buckets, while another was concealed in meat boxes. All were what would be termed medium-sized seizures for drugs seized from ships, with a wholesale value of perhaps $500,000 to $1m.

2018-built, Hong Kong-flagged, 11,619 gt Zea Servant is owned by Huanghai HK Rong An Shipping care of manager Tianjin Xinhai International Ship management Co of Tianjin, China. It is entered with American Club on behalf of Huanghai HK Rong An Shipping Co Ltd. As of November 7th the vessel was en route from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, to Mumbai, ETA November 19th.