If they had been caught in the American War On Drugs they would have received free maintenance and fuel
Heroin ship to sink with its secrets
ED JOHNSON IN SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
Wed 22 Mar 2006
A NORTH Korean cargo ship used to smuggle a huge haul of heroin into Australia will be blown up by the country's armed forces this week.
It follows a trial in which prosecutors tried to prove the complicity of Kim Jong Il's government in the drugs trade.
Three years after being seized in a dramatic operation, the rusting 3,500 tonne Pong Su freighter, used to smuggle 150kg of heroin into Australia was towed out of Sydney Harbour yesterday on its final voyage before being used as target practice by the Australian navy.
But even resting on the ocean floor, the vessel will remain at the centre of a probe into the secretive North Korean government's drug activities.
Both the Australian and US governments have cited the case as evidence that Kim Jong Il's impoverished regime peddles drugs to bring in hard currency.
The ship's captain and three senior officers walked free from an Australian court earlier this month after a jury cleared them of heroin smuggling. But Australian officials remain adamant the vessel, and Pyongyang, were involved.
"A ship like that, of that size and capacity, delivering 150kg of heroin just doesn't happen by accident," Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty said. "There was a political officer on board travelling on a political passport, who was a member of the Korean workers' party. There has to be some question marks about the knowledge or otherwise of the North Korean government."
The freighter sailed from North Korea in March 2003, supposedly hired by a Malaysian company to pick up a shipment of BMWs in Melbourne. Its cavernous hold was empty except for half a dozen bundles of heroin worth £70 million.
On a stormy night less than a month later, it anchored unusually close to Australia's south coast near Melbourne. Two men lowered a rubber dinghy over the side with the heroin on board and cast off to meet accomplices on the beach.
One of them drowned in the surf and his unidentified body still lies in a Melbourne morgue. The other made it ashore in time to rendezvous with three men known to police as the shore party.
They were caught red handed. After a four day chase, the Pong Su was apprehended, and the captain, officers and 27 crew members taken into custody.
The shore party and the survivor from the dinghy all admitted helping to smuggle heroin. But charges were dropped against the 27 crew members due to insufficient evidence. And in a seven-month trial in Melbourne, the captain, political officer, first mate and chief engineer said they knew nothing of the cargo.
After ten days of deliberations, the jury decided there was reasonable doubt and all four men were cleared.
"I guess these are the vagaries of the jury system," said Professor James Cotton, a political analyst in Canberra.
150 kg?!?!!? That is an enormous amount of heroin. 1 gram is enough for 100 doses for a non-addict.
I was going to say just the opposit. It is only 330pounds, you would think if the government was going to haul it in on a carg ship there would be alot more than that on it..
I dont know how much a dose is so I guess it could be alot..