Australia Sinks North Korean Drug Ship
23 March 2006
Australian fighter planes have bombed and sunk a North Korean cargo ship that was used to smuggle drugs into Australia.
Two laser-guided, high-explosive bombs sent the vessel to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean Thursday, off Australia's east coast. The 3,500-ton ship was seized and impounded three years ago, after its crew was caught unloading 150 kilograms of heroin on a secluded beach.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said scuttling the ship in such a spectacular manner was intended as a message to North Korea of public outrage about drug trafficking. Australian authorities believe the North Korean government was involved in the smuggling operation.
Four crew members arrested at the time the ship was seized in 2003 have pleaded guilty to drug-smuggling charges, but the ship's captain and three officers were found not guilty of aiding the operation.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.
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