USA: WASHINGTON: BURNT OUT SAILBOAT WAS CARRYING MARIJUANA

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(3 Dec 1997) Natural Sound

A sailboat that burned and sank off the coast of Washington was carrying five-thousand pounds of marijuana from Thailand.

By midday on Tuesday, the U-S Coast Guard had recovered about 37-hundred
pounds of marijuana worth “more than 15 (m) million U-S dollars.

Three men picked up from the boat – two Americans and an Indonesian – have been placed under arrest by U-S Customs Service agents.

Officials said the U-S Coast Guard first noticed Ok Tedi under way without running lights near the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Just before midnight on Sunday, when the boat was more than two miles (three point two kilometres) into U-S territorial waters, the Coast Guard moved to intercept the boat.

Sailing within yards of the Australian-flagged sloop, the Coast Guard radioed the boat and ordered the crew to take down the sails to prepare for boarding.

About three minutes later, the crew set fire to the Ok Tedi and got into a small rubber raft, before being picked up by the Coast Guard.

As the Coast Guard fought the fire, crews noticed dozens of large, burlap-wrapped bales on the boat and floating in the water.

It turned out that the boat had been carrying five-thousand pounds of marijuana from Thailand.

The three men picked up from the boat – two Americans and an Indonesian – were arrested by U-S Customs Service agents.

By midday on Tuesday, 37-hundred and 68 pounds of marijuana worth more than 15 (m) million U-S dollars had been recovered, most of it burned or wet.

Little is known yet about the origins of the Ok Tedi.

The name comes from a famous gold and copper mine in Papua New Guinea and is
widely used as a slang term for striking it rich.

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