Bulgarian Man Leased Cocaine-Loaded Ship Busted in Spain

Crime | August 27, 2012, Monday // 14:55|  views

Last week, Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov was on a two-day visit to Spain over the bust of 3 tons of cocaine on a Bulgarian ship. File photo by BGNES

The man who leased the ship transporting 3 tons of cocaine that was busted in Spain two weeks ago is a Bulgarian citizen.

The news was announced Monday by Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, speaking for the media.

The police are still collecting operational information and evidence in the case, Tsvetanov, cited by Standard daily, told journalists. According to the official paperwork, the ship was to be empty and the crew was hired to transport sugar from South America to Spain and was told they were to do so.

The Minister, however, reiterated that some contacts of the crew with Columbians have been intercepted, but currently there is no direct evidence Bulgarian sailors were part of the criminal network.

On August 13, 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 GDBOP, the French police, the US DEA and the UK COKA.

It was also reported that the ship, sailing under Bulgarian flag, has been intercepted and traced for two days and two nights by an ATR-42 aircraft of the Italian Finance Police.

The investigators believe that some of the detained sailors, particularly the captain, Ivan Stanchov, were part of the group. All remain behind bars in a maximum security facility in Spain.

Last Friday, Spain's Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz made it clear that his country will be trying the sailors, dashing their hopes for a Bulgarian trial. The news emerged during the special visit of Tsvetanov to Spain over the cocaine affair.

Bulgaria cannot intervene in the Spanish justice system, and only the Spanish authorities could authorize meetings of the 21 sailors captured by Spain with their families, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov declared in the aftermath, and after talks with the relatives of the Bulgarian crew.

On August 18, the special anti-mafia Prosecutor's Office charged Doychin Doychev, the owner of the Seaborne Trade company and of the ship SV Nikolay (Saint Nikolay) with participating in an organized crime group.

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