Italian authorities have seized more than 20 tons of hashish hidden inside the hull of a general cargo ship at the port of Cagliari in Sardinia, Italy’s Guardia di Finanza has announced.
The drugs were found stashed inside a forward ballast tank onboard the Cook Islands-flagged cargo ship MV Jupiter.
According to the Guardia di Finanza, the drug bust all started about three weeks ago when the Italian authorities received a tip that the drugs were being smuggled onboard the cargo ship, leading to a boarding of the vessel as it sailed through the Sardinia Channel.
The ship was escorted to the port of Cagliari, where authorities eventually found 821 packages of hashish with a combined weight of 20.5 tons hidden inside the ballast tank, behind large slabs of concrete that had to be moved with cranes.
The Guardia di Finanza estimates that the drugs seized have a street value of about 200 million euro, or about US $227 million dollars.
The captain and eight crew members, all Syrian nationals, have been arrested.
According to AIS data from MarineTraffic.com, the MV Jupiter has been in the Cagliari since October 1 and the ship sailed from the port of Vigo in Spain.