A 13m sailboat washed up on the shore of an uninhabited Tongan itoll in October with a gruesome cargo: the decomposing body of a man in his 30s and 204 1kg blocks of cocaine.
Tongan police said there were no obvious signs of foul play, although international drug enforcement police said two men were on the yacht when it left Ecuador on Aug. 20.
Divers discovered the S/Y JeReVe — a 1991 Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 44 — aground on a reef off Luatafito Atoll in Vava’u on Nov. 7. Police found the drugs inside the hull. They are believed to have been meant for Australia with an estimated street value of more than $100 million Australian. Police believe it to be one of the largest seizure of narcotics in the South Pacific.
In a statement, the Australian Federal Police, U.S. Customs and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency said they had formed a project earlier this year to examine identified vulnerabilities in the South Pacific exploited by international organized crime syndicates.
The boat, originally called Jonathan, was a cruising boat, sailing between the Med and the Caribbean, according to a report by Sail World. She sold earlier this year.
In August, acting on a tip-off from a the DEA, the AFP began tracking the yacht after it cleared customs, indicating it was sailing across the Pacific toward Australia. They lost track of it near the Cook Islands. It is believed to have washed up on the atoll in early October, about 10nm from Tonga.