Crewman Indicted On Smuggling Charges

Monday, July 30, 2001
A crewman aboard a Greek tanker which docked in San Francisco last weekend has been indicted on smuggling charges after authorities found hundreds of pounds (kilograms) of cocaine aboard the vessel. Luis Manrique-Banzan, 46, was indicted on four counts of importing 439 pounds (199 kg) of cocaine with intent to distribute following the discovery of the drugs on the MT Aramis on July 21. Manrique-Banzan, a Peruvian crewman aboard the tanker, appeared before a federal judge and was in custody pending a bail hearing scheduled for Aug. 1, U.S. officials said U.S. Coast Guard officials discovered the cocaine hidden aboard the 70,000-ton tanker, which was owned by Tsakos Shipping and Trading and was under charter to an Ecuadorean energy company. Officials said the drug cache was secreted in the rudder trunk of the Aramis -- an area around a ledge above the rudder difficult to access from board but easily accessed from sea. Officials said they believed divers had intended to retrieve the cocaine, that had been loaded into duffel bags and suspended from nets in the air pocket of the rudder trunk. The cocaine was estimated to have a street value of $25 million. - (Reuters)

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