World Bulletin / News Desk
Colombian authorities detained a vessel operated by China's largest shipping group for illegally transporting thousands of cannon shells, about 100 tonnes of gunpowder and other materials used to make explosives, the attorney general's office said.
The Da Dan Xia, operated by Cosco Shipping Co Ltd , was headed for Cuba when it was stopped on Saturday in the northern port of Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast, after the materials were detected during an inspection.
The cargo was listed in the records of the 28,451 deadweight-tonne ship as grain products. The captain of the Hong Kong-flagged vessel had been arrested, the attorney general's office said.
A Cosco Shipping official in the firm's Guangzhou head office said the ship was operated by the company but added she was unaware of the incident. Cosco Shipping is part of the state-backed China Ocean Shipping Group Co (COSCO) conglomerate.
Cargo documentation the captain presented did not match the load the ship was found to be carrying, Luis Gonzalez, national director of the Colombian attorney general's office, told reporters.
"Around 100 tonnes of powder, 2.6 million detonators, 99 projectiles and around 3,000 cannon shells were found," Gonzalez added.
Photographs from the prosecutor's office showed wooden cases inside a shipping container with labels stating Chinese defense manufacturer China North Industries Group Corporation as the supplier.
The company, known as Norinco, is China's biggest arms maker. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A man who identified himself as the Da Dan Xia's first officer confirmed the ship had been detained in Colombiawhen Reuters called the vessel's phone number on Wednesday. He declined to comment further.
The attorney general's office said the ship's captain, Wu Hong, would be brought before a judge in order to be detained pending charges, and had been provided with an interpreter. Officials said he could be charged with illegal transport of military materials.
A North Korean ship was detained in the Caribbean region in July 2013, near the Panama canal, when it was found to be carrying Soviet-era weapons from Cuba including two MiG-21 jet fighters, hidden under thousands of tonnes of sugar.
The United States and the United Nations both blacklisted two shipping companies which they said tried to hide the arms shipments destined for North Korea. Panama freed the ship and 32 crew to sail back to Cuba a year ago after most of a $1 million fine was paid.Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Mart 2015, 10:36