(Reuters) – Four citizens of Guyana and one Ghanaian pleaded guilty on Friday to charges related to the seizure of a ship carrying tens of millions of dollars’ worth of cocaine, a senior legal official said.
Ghanaian authorities impounded the Guyana-registered MV ATIYAH on Tuesday and arrested the five when they discovered it was carrying 400 kilos (880 pounds) of cocaine worth around $50 million, according to a statement by the Ghana Narcotics Control Board (NACOB).
The five men were charged by a High Court judge with offences including engaging in a criminal conspiracy and transportation of narcotics without authority, said the official, who was in court.
“The case was adjourned for three weeks because the full results of the substance (tests) have not been brought back from the laboratory,” the official said.
The men, who were remanded in custody, told the court they could not afford a lawyer, he added.
The vessel was monitored at sea and detained by anti-narcotics officers working with the Ghana Navy once it entered territorial waters, NACOB said, without giving further details.
In recent years, Latin American drug cartels have increasingly used West Africa’s string of weak coastal states, including Ghana, as transit points for drugs being smuggled to the lucrative European market.
(Reporting by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by David Lewis)