Fishy drug bust on board of Thai bulk carrier in Nigeria

A bunch of Nigerian law enforcement agencies and Nigerian Navy, on Oct 15 trumpeted a big success in the war against drug trafficking, after they jointly detained a Thai bulk carrier CHAYANEE NAREE, which was drifting or moving in loops outside Nigerian waters south of Lagos since arrival from Santos, Brazil, on Oct 1, with ETA Lagos Oct 9. According to Nigerian official story, agencies were alerted by Nigerian Interpol, and intelligent report received from the UK Border Force.
“Upon entering Nigerian waters, the vessel was intercepted by Nigerian Navy ship Ekulu, and escorted to NPA’s port where she was directed to berth on October 9, 2021 and taken into custody by the navy.”
“Thereafter, other agencies were invited to conduct an extensive and comprehensive search of the vessel for narcotics and other contraband items. The suspected vessel was thoroughly searched by a combined team of Nigerian Navy, Interpol Nigeria, Nigeria Customs Service and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
The search began on October 9, 2021, and at about 6pm on October 13, 2021, bag was found in the cargo hold one, with 30 packages of cocaine inside, totalling 32.9 kilos. Further search and investigation continued.”
Ship’s crew consisting of 22 Thai nationals, were arrested, and are said to be kept in custody.

There’s absolutely nothing suspicious in ships waiting outside Nigerian waters, for days and sometimes weeks, – it’s a common safety practice in dangerous waters of Gulf of Guinea. What’s suspicious, is the quantity of busted drugs – 33 kilos in cargo hold of a bulk carrier, only? Usually, it’s hundreds of kilos or even tons, not mere several dozen kilos. It wasn’t worth the trouble, one might say. What is it, then? Well, it very well might be a staged “drug bust”, to demonstrate Nigerian determination and success in fighting maritime crimes. Similar spectacles happen regularly all around the globe. Hopefully, Thailand won’t leave its’ citizen behind, and provide all necessary support and legal defence, to repatriate them home as soon as possible.
“UK Border Force” and Interpol involvement in this story makes it even more fishy: Interpol ran out of trust for quite some time already; and as for UK State agencies and their activities, the country looks like it’s occupied by a hostile force, generally speaking. Nothing official, anywhere in the world, can be trusted anymore, that’s the “new normal” of the mankind.

STATEMENT issued by ship’s owner PCL, confirms my version of staged bust:
Clarification on the news regarding an arrest of 22 Thai crew members on board M.V. Chayanee Naree in Nigeria
… At the load port in Santos Brazil, on 18 September 2021, drugs were found inside one of the cargo holds of the Vessel. Following this, the Brazilian authorities conducted a thorough investigation following which they were satisfied that none of our crew members were involved in or assisted the smuggling of drugs…
… Upon arriving at the discharge berth in Lagos, Nigeria on 9 October 2021,the Nigerian authorities conducted an extensive search of the Vessel,however no suspicious objects were uncovered. The Vessel then commenced discharging the cargo. However, on 13 October 2021, drugs were found in a cargo hold of the Vessel…
Full text:

Bulk carrier CHAYANEE NAREE, IMO 9613434, dwt 56548, built 2012, flag Singapore, manager PRECIOUS SHIPPING PCL, Bangkok.



My name is Mikhail Voytenko, I’m Russian, professional merchant marine navigator, by education and former experience. I own and run Maritime Bulletin website for more than 10 years. I've been involved in solving a number of piracy hijack cases, including the hijack of ro-ro FAINA, loaded with tanks. It was me who made public, and unravel, freighter ARCTIC SEA mystery. I've been also closely involved in a number of maritime disaster, one of them being MSC FLAMINIA major fire.