The Spanish authorities have seized a cargo vessel laden with hashish that appeared to at risk of sinking off the Canary Islands.
The vessel, the Natalia, had been tracked since January 2021 in a joint operation by Spanish Tax Agency and National Police from the Lebanon where it had been linked to suspected drug operations off the coast of Libya in 2016.
The Spanish authorities tracked the Palau-flagged vessel until it was 40 miles off the coast of Fuerteventura when the decision was made to intercept her.
Two Spanish customs patrol boats, the ‘Sacre’ and the ‘Halcon’, were involved in the operation which led to the vessel being boarded by officers in international waters in the early hours of Sunday 8th August.
The officers immediately took control of the ship and arrested the 11-man Syrian crew.
The arresting officers quickly found that the vessel was barely seaworthy with broken down engines as well as taking on water.
Despite the poor condition of the ship, she reached the port of Las Palmas where she was inspected.
The 11 crew members have appeared in court in Las Palmas charged with drug smuggling.
Meanwhile the vessel has been impounded as the investigation continues.