The Russian captain and crew of a cargo ship captured last year in Cape Verde with the biggest cocaine seized in the country were found guilty of drug trafficking and sentenced to jail.
More than nine tons of cocaine was seized in February 2019 after the ship, travelling to Morocco from South America, docked at the port of Praia for legal reasons following the death of a crew member.
An Atlantic archipelago of 500 000 people off Africa’s west coast, Cape Verde has long tried to trafficking of Latin American cocaine to Europe via West Africa.
Captain Sergei Kotlovskii said during the trial he was forced to take the drugs aboard in the Caribbean by the ship’s owner and the 10 crew members were not aware of the illicit cargo.
Kotlovskii got 12 years for international drug trafficking. The rest of the crew got 10 years for the same crime. They were acquitted of criminal association.
“The defendants were all aware of the narcotic and acted with intent, freely and consciously in exchange for economic benefit,” according to the court judgment read by Judge Angela Rodrigues.
Defence lawyer Martinho Landim lawyer said he would appeal the decision.
Use is rising of hard drugs like cocaine, heroin and amphetamines in West Africa, where countries that once served primarily as transit points for trade between South America and Europe are now active consumer markets.