PNG: Boat full of cocaine ?worth ?27,000,000? abandoned off remote island


Staff member
May 20, 2009
Authorities in Papua New Guinea and Australia appear to have lost track of more than $50 million in cocaine originally found buried on a remote island in the Solomon Sea.

A shark fisherman discovered the drugs, suspected to have been bound for Australia, in May after he followed a rope that led from the water to a patch of disturbed sand.

The drugs, stuffed in 11 duffle bags, were taken back to a village on nearby Budi Budi Island, about 700km east of the PNG capital Port Moresby.

But a group of tattooed Asian men arrived on an unregistered boat and took the drugs back.

PNG police later intercepted the modified trawler with the help of Australian aerial surveillance and arrested six men from Hong Kong and one from Montenegro. However, they did not recover the drugs, finding only a small amount of ?cocaine in a cigarette packet on the boat.

Police have speculated the ?cocaine could still be on the boat.

They have been unable to conduct a full search because the vessel appeared to have been booby-trapped by pumping oil and fuel into the engine room, filling it with toxic fumes and creating the risk of an explosion.

Regional PNG chief inspector George Bayagau said it was ?believed that after leaving Budi Budi Island, the smugglers had met up with one or two more boats.

?We believe a change took place,? he said.

He confirmed police had not been able to conduct a full search of the vessel.

?Our men couldn?t get into the interior. There was diesel poured inside and there was grease all over and it made it very, very difficult,? he said.

The boat was too heavy to tow and police had to abandon it while they took the seven men to Alatou, the capital of Milne Bay province.

The boat was left to drift and then ran aground off the Siassi islands, a remote and uninhabited region in the Vitiaz Strait.

?The patrol boat from the PNG Defence Force did the search with assistance from the surveillance aircraft from Australia,? Mr Bayagau said.

?All efforts were made to salvage the boat, but it was impossible.?

Seven men are due to face trial on drug charges in Alatou this week after previously pleading guilty to immigration ?offences.

Federal police are alarmed at the level of organised crime ?in the Pacific, with the remoteness of ?islands, lack of policing resources and soft laws making it a smugglers? paradise.

Australia?s Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne announced last week that Australia would develop a $17m intelligence centre to provide strategic analysis to regional partners, strengthen maritime information sharing and issue security alerts across the ?Pacific to help respond to threats such as drugs, people-smuggling and illegal fishing.

Budi Budi?s 300 residents managed to keep from the smugglers a pack containing more than 6kg of cocaine, worth more than $1.3m. The pack was handed to police, and Australian Federal Police tests confirmed it was the illegal stimulant.

The buried duffle bags had contained 55 similar packs, Mr Bayagau said.

?The assumption is they will be heading for Australia or New Zealand,? he said.

?That part of the islands is prone to the intrusion of illegal foreign vessels.

?It?s not only drugs, it?s illegal things like firearms and ammunition. We believe this has gone on a number of times. There is no communication so there is nothing reported. We don?t know what?s happening there.?

PNG government maritime authority officer Bernard William said the vessel was a ghost boat, with no registration or identification.

?I?ve never seen anything like it. It was so toxic we couldn?t enter,?? Mr William said.

Since February 2016, more than 7.5 tonnes of cocaine destined for Australia has been seized ?while transiting the South Pacific via small craft or once it has arrived ashore?, an AFP spokesman said.

?This figure does not capture amounts trafficked via cargo, air passengers or cruise ship passengers,? he said.

The AFP declined to comment on the missing cocaine, saying it was an ongoing operational matter for PNG.



Senior Moderator
Staff member
Jan 22, 2011
Hmm, anyone want to risk a booby-trapped boat? The drugs are just sitting there! =D


Senior Moderator
Staff member
Nov 3, 2008
Life has no meaning, yet I keep searching...
They probably sunk it.

Or kept the coke and lied about where it went.