The boat likely crossed the Pacific Ocean from Central or South America.
Police in the Marshall Islands found the largest shipment of cocaine in that Pacific nation, worth about $80 million, in an abandoned boat that washed up on a remote atoll after possibly drifting offshore for years.
Attorney General Richard Hickson said the 18-foot fiberglass vessel was found on Ailuk Atoll last week with 1,430 pounds of cocaine hidden in a compartment below deck. Hickson said the vessel likely crossed the Pacific Ocean from Central or South America.
“It could have been drifting for a year or two,” Hickson commented.
Police said the drugs, which were in pound packages marked “KW,” were burned except for two packages, which will be turned over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency for analysis.
Many other drug caches have been discovered along the Marshall Islands’ coastline over the past two decades, but the latest haul was by far the largest. Law enforcement officials have various theories about the origins of these drugs, including that they were abandoned when smugglers were in danger of being caught or lost in a storm.
In January 2014, Salvadoran fisherman Jose Alvarenga arrived in the Marshall Islands, more than 13 months after he had sailed from the west coast of Mexico with a comrade who had died during the voyage. After his arrival, researchers at the University of Hawaii ran 16 computer simulations of drift models from the Mexican coast and found that almost all eventually arrived in the Marshall Islands.