Boat full of cocaine 'worth $35,000,000' abandoned off the coast of a remote Pacific island
There are lots of amazing reasons one could want to visit Papua New Guinea; Mount Wilhelm is said to have amazing climbing routes with beautiful views, while Kimbe Bay is well-known for being one of the best places in the area for snorkelling on a coral reef - throw into the mix Tavurvur, an active 735-foot high stratovolcano, and you've got all the ingredients for a fantastic trip.
But in recent days something else has been tempting people from all over the world to pay the island a visit. Namely, a boat-load of cocaine worth a staggering amount of money. Yes, you heard me right folks.
This sordid tale of crime and narcotics begins with a fishermen who accidentally stumbled across a huge stash of the white powder. According to The Australian, the fisherman noticed some rope running from the sea to a small stick on a beach on a tiny atoll in the Solomon Sea. On further inspection he managed to dig up 11 duffel bags bursting with cocaine, and decided to take them back to his village on nearby Budi Budi Island for a closer look. This is when things took a turn...
Men from China and Eastern Europe arrived looking for the buried treasure which he had unceremoniously unburied - they then promptly collected their drugs and escaped in a modified trawler boat. The Papua New Guinean Navy then decided to get involved, which started a fairly lengthy 400km chase out at sea.
Once they caught up with the drug pirates, however - with the aid of Australian air surveillance - there were more issues. Despite arresting seven men, the drugs themselves were much harder to secure. In attempting to fully search the vessel the authorities found that the ship had been booby-trapped with oil and fuel pumped throughout the engine room. In the end the police only managed to get a small amount of cocaine hidden inside a cigarette packet.
"Our men couldn’t get into the interior," said regional PNG chief inspector George Bayagau.
"There was diesel poured inside and there was grease all over and it made it very, very difficult." He added: "All efforts were made to salvage the boat, but it was impossible."
As the drug-filled vessel was too heavy to tow back to Papua New Guinea, it had to be abandoned somewhere off the Siassi Islands while still containing it's highly valuable booty.
It also turned out that the residents of Budi Budi had held on to one packet from the stash before it was stolen back, which contained 6 kilos of cocaine, priced at more than $1.3 million. They eventually handed it over to police, who believe that the remaining 55 packets are still stuck aboard the booby-trapped boot - floating aimlessly in the ocean.
Many might think that such an idyllic location is not really the place for drug cartels and high-speed chases, but it seems that the Pacific has become a hotbed of organized crime in the last few years. With police and border controls being few and far between, cartels have the ability to smuggle drugs, weapons, and even people to richer countries like Australia and New Zealand.
Is it just me, or does this story deserve to be turned into a Hollywood blockbuster? I can see it vividly; Ryan Gosling could play the fisherman (it is Hollywood after all) while Javier Bardem could easily be cast as the merciless pirate captain. I better get typing before someone steals my idea.