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Captain, Indonesian crew held after tonne of ketamine found

A 67-year-old captain and five Indonesian crew members were arrested on Friday by authorities at a port in southern Taiwan after a tonne of ketamine was recovered from a secret chamber on a fishing vessel.

Following an exchange of information with intelligence officials, police in Kaohsiung identified a 40-tonne fishing boat registered in Donggang Harbor in western Taiwan as most likely being deployed for drug trafficking, China Times reported.

The vessel was put under surveillance by police and Coast Guard officials monitored its exit and entry from the country.

On February 2, the vessel reportedly lost power and needed assistance when it was 3.7 nautical miles southwest of Lamay Island. A team from the Coast Guard Administration – standing by for the special operation – was dispatched.

While the vessel was towed back to the harbor, Coast Guard officers raided the boat and found 1,289.6 kilograms of ketamine packed in 126 black bags in a secret chamber. The drugs had an estimated market value of NT$3 billion (US$102 million).

The owner of the vessel, a 67-year-old Taiwanese man surnamed Chen, and his five Indonesian crewmen were arrested for allegedly trafficking illicit drugs.

Chen, who has allegedly been diagnosed with colon cancer, told the officers they could get NT$2 million (US$68,016) for each successful smuggling journey.

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