$5 Million Cache of Ammunition Seized from Cargo Ship in Dakar
Senegalese authorities in the West African country are confirming reports of a seizure of ammunition valued at approximately $5 million from a cargo ship in the port of Dakar. Details are sketchy with the authorities saying the crew has been detained for questioning. Additional reports from Italy and Greece seem to indicate the ship and its owner have a checkered past with peace activists in Italy demanding an immediate government investigation into the case.
A 39-year-old general cargo ship named Eolika registered in Guyana but reportedly owned by Greek interests arrived at the anchorage off Dakar, Senegal on December 19. AIS data says its previous ports were Las Palmas, Spain, and before that La Spezia, Italy. The vessel briefly shifted to the dock in Dakar and then returned to the dock again at the end of December, possibly to fuel or where it might have been detained.
The local newspaper Liberation and the Senegalese Press Agency said the vessel first came under suspicion because of the actions of the crew. Senegalese authorities reportedly questioned the captain of the vessel who first said he did not know the contents of the three containers aboard the ship and later said they contained iron.
“Customs, alerted by the absence of reliable navigation and maritime transport documents, but above all by the inconsistencies in the declarations of the captain of the ship, immediately proceeded to search and check the cargo,” a statement from Senegalese Customs reports.
The four crew members, which local media says are from Ukraine, are being questioned while the cargo of ammunition has been unloaded for further inspection. Media reports say it was determined to be large quantities of 9 mm and 5.56 mm ammunition.
Organizations in Italy learned of the details of the seizure saying that they believe the ammunition was made in Italy and are questioning how it came to be aboard the vessel. The groups, which identify themselves as pacificists, are demanding the Port Authority in La Spezia immediately release information about the loading of cargo to the vessel. They are also demanding that the La Spezia Customs Agency provide details on the export of the ammunition and if it had gone through the appropriate approvals for registration and export.
The investigation into the case is ongoing.
Dakar photo by Balou46 (public domain photo)