The largest-ever haul of cocaine in the Marshall Islands was found by police on an abandoned boat that washed up on a remote atoll, after drifting on the high seas, potentially for years.
The 5.5 metre (18ft) fibreglass vessel was found at Ailuk atoll last week with 649 kg (1,430lb ) of cocaine hidden in a compartment beneath the deck.
The drug, which was in one-kilogram packages marked with the letters “KW”, was incinerated on Tuesday, except for two packs that will be given to the US Drug Enforcement Agency for analysis.
Debris from the Americas often washes up in the pacific nation after months or years at sea, driven by Pacific Ocean currents. Local law enforcement officials have different theories about the origins of such drugs washing up in the islands, including that they were abandoned when smugglers were in danger of being caught, or got lost in storms.
Many other stashes of drugs have been found along the Marshall Islands’ coast in the past twenty years.
Salvadoran fisherman José Alvarenga washed up in the Marshall Islands, in January 2014, a little more than 13 months after he set off from Mexico’s west coast with his companion, who died during the voyage.
After his discovery, researchers at the University of Hawaii conducted 16 computer simulations of drift patterns from the Mexico coast and found nearly all of them eventually arrived in the Marshall Islands.