Spain to Try Bulgarian Sailors Busted on Cocaine-Loaded ShipCrime | August 23, 2012, Thursday // 20:04| views
The Interior MInisters of Spain and Bulgaria, Jorge Fernandez Diaz and Tsvetan Tsvetanov, meeting specially for the cocaine ship affair. Photo by Interior Ministry/BGNES
Despite Bulgaria's hopes for a domestic trial, it will be Spain that will be trying 21 Bulgarian sailors on drug trafficking charges, after last week the Spanish authorities captured the Bulgarian ship St. Nikolay with 3 metric tons of cocaine on board.
"The Bulgarian sailors from the St. Nikolay ship must be tried in Spain," Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz told reporters Thursday night upon meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart Tsvetan Tsvetanov in Madrid, the bTV channel reported.
Tsvetanov, who went to Spain specially for the cocaine ship affair together with Commissar Stanimir Florov, head of the Bulgarian anti-mafia unit GDBOP, in turn declared that the sailors must receive a "fair trial", no matter where it would take place, and that "those responsible must bear their punishment, even if it is the harshest one."
According to the Bulgarian Interior Minister, the crew of the Bulgarian vessel must first "help themselves" before they can expect assistance from anybody else by cooperating with the investigation.
At the same time, the Spanish authorities released more detailed data about the St. Nikolay cocaine ship affair.
According to their information, the Bulgarian vessel was loaded with cocaine between July 20 and July 24, 2012, in Venezuela.
The Interior Ministers of Bulgaria and Spain said they were already aware of the persons and networks used to procure the crew for the ship, and that in 15 days Spanish police officers will be arriving in Bulgaria for joint operations.
"Organized crime is up for an unpleasant surprise based on what we agreed upon," Tsvetanov is quoted as saying, without specifying further.
Spain's Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz hinted that he believes that all sailors on board of the St. Nikolay ship were aware that they were transporting cocaine since they spent some 20 days on board with the shipment.
Last week, Spanish authorities nabbed 31 people, including 21 Bulgarians, after seizing 3 tons of cocaine brought from South America on a ship caught off the southern coast.
The operation codenamed Cartel has been carried out jointly by Bulgaria's Chief Directorate for Combating Organized Crime GDBOP, the French police, the US DEA and the UK COKA.
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