North Korean container ship ''Chong Chon Gang'' docked at the Manzanillo International Container Terminal in Colon City July 16, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

North Korean container ship ”Chong Chon Gang” docked at the Manzanillo International Container Terminal in Colon City July 16, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

On July 15, the North Korea-bound cargo ship Chong Chon Gang was stopped by Panamanian authorities outside the Panama Canal.  Within the containers on board, missile parts, fire control radars, and two Russian MiGs were found stuffed inside by authorities.

The contraband was hidden underneath ten thousand pounds of Cuban brown sugar.

After three weeks near the equator exposed to the atmosphere, the sugar has apparently now turned into a sticky, molten mess with overtones of urine, mold, body odor, and rotten food.  “To call that thing filthy would be a compliment,” said Panamanian Security Minister José Raúl Mulino in a report from the Miami Herald.

For the inspectors who are tasked with combing through this vessel, it’s a tall order.  An extraordinarily tall order considering the ship has now attracted every bee within smell range of the Chong Chon Gang.

According to NKNews and La Prensa, the Panamania Ministry of Health is now fumigating daily to help get rid of the bees and authorities are scrambling to find somewhere else to store the sugary mess while the inspection is carried out.

Bee image (c) Shutterstock/Van Truan

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  • Ben

    Sounds like the Panamanian authorities did a poor job of securing the cargo during their inspection. I’m sure they won’t be held accountable for the neglectful damage to the sugar.

  • jarret

    That’s always the gamble with looking for contraban. If you find it your not responsible for the dammage but if not your agency is going to write a check.
    That’s why it was covered with the sugar. Its not only an obstical but also. A gamble.

  • Cassie

    Considering the global problem with bees disappearing/dying, the Panamanian government should be a little more concerned about fumigating daily.

    • Eckels

      It could very well be wasps or hornets, not bees.

    • Harry

      That’s what I what thinking.



    • JXXX

      Couldn’t they export bees? May be I should start thinking about new biz opportunity…

  • Ricardo Moreno

    Never mind the bees (or the birds). What is very worrisome is the Cuban involvement in arm traficking with some really weird governments in our continent. At one time, right-wing miltary dictatorships were the order of the day. Now we have swung hard-a-port and have left-wing “popular” dictatorships proliferating, reviving thos anachronistic Stalin/Mao-type “revolutionary” governments. What a mess! But, how come this shift is occurring? That is the question, my dear Hamlet.

    Ricardo Moreno, Master Mariner

  • muriel

    Only “ten thousand pounds of sugar” for a down payment and to conceal missile and jet parts? Seems meagre. Other news said 250,000 100 pound sacks of sugar.
    How about some more accuracy!

  • Wilson Dizard

    @ Ricardo Moreno: Problems in Central and South America result partly from the different histories of Spanish/Portuguese/Dutch/French/English colonial history in that region compared to the colonial history of North America. One big difference was the Spanish goal of extracting cash & then departing to live in Iberian grandeur. Many American & Canadian settlers, by contrast, couldn’t return, & chafed at rule from London. American views of Central & South American issues typically have been driven by the US electoral cycle. Periods of panic over Castro/Allende leftists, who were either controlled by Moscow or aligned with “Third World” Eurocommunism often inspired frantic, heavy-handed intervention. That alternated with periods of listless daze, when South American policies were shaped by often by the foreign aid policies du jour as well as generals who had graduated from the US Army’s School of the Americas (now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) at Fort Benning, Ga. That School spectacularly failed to fully inculcate the notion of civilian control over South American military forces, having educated many soldiers who went on to lead coups in their own country. The US Special Forces training courses at Ft. Benning have, even more tragically, trained the cadre of the “Zetas” drug/contraband/kidnapping cartel in Mexico, which has claimed thousands of lives. The latest swing toward “Bolivarian” leftism is quickly creating conditions for its own destruction, partly by shortsighted exploitation of Venezuela’s oil resource (output & revenue are dropping & skilled tar sands engineers have moved to Colombia, where they have expanded oil output several times over). Politically-driven foreign reserve mismanagement have created shortages of necessities from food to toilet paper for all Venezualans except the regime’s pampered elite and cosseted enforcers. At the end of the day, people in South America didn’t need any additional schooling in cruelty from the Norteamericanos; few American schoolchildren or even university university students learn about the War of the Triple Alliance (also called the Paraguayan War) between 1864 and 1870, that caused approximately 360,000 deaths, reputedly the highest rate of fatalities related to the number of combatants of any war in modern history. One estimate places total Paraguayan losses at 1.2 million (including civilians who died from disease & hunger) or 90 percent of Paraguay’s pre-war population. More conservative estimates put Paraguay’s death total at about 300,000 people from a prewar population of about 500,000 to 525,000, or 60 percent of the population; again, proportionally the most destructive war in modern times. Better education about these matters, and cooperative attention to their resolution, would go far to resolving hemispheric problems. But, in a decade during which the US has its hands full preserving its own democracy & economy against looming self-destruction, that’s not likely.

  • Vural ONUR

    I am not clear, where the vessel was coming from.
    If there is a sugar cargo on board, most likely, it must have been shipped from Cuba. In that case the undeclared weapons should have already been delivered at Cuba. Why still keeping weapons etc. on board on the way back to ?? through Panama canal.

    Otherwise, sugar is a valuable foodstuff at a country like N. Korea, hence there is no logic in wasting so much value just to cover up a cargo open to all sorts of risks.

  • Sky

    Fumigating to get rid of thousands of bees AKA “every bee within smell range of the Chong Chon Gang””? That’s sure to have an impact on the environment…

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