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Ecuadorian Coast Guard Vessel Sinks After Busting Smuggling Boat

The drugs and the suspects were recovered and brought ashore for prosecution (Ecuadorian Navy)
The drugs and the suspects were recovered and brought ashore for prosecution (Ecuadorian Navy)

Published May 28, 2024 5:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

A good samaritan vessel has safely rescued the crew of the coast guard patrol vessel Isla Santa Cruz, which went down just after intercepting a smuggling vessel last weekend.

On Sunday evening at 1830 hours, the Ecuadorian coast guard vessel Isla Santa Cruz intercepted a semisubmersible smuggling boat off the coast of Salinas, in the vicinity of the Galapagos Islands. The stealthy vessel had three crewmembers aboard, including two Colombian nationals and one Ecuadorian. The boat was loaded with about two tonnes of cocaine, according to local media, and was headed for a transshipment point in Central America. 

While bringing the detainees and the boat back to shore for prosecution, the Isla Santa Cruz sank, and the crew and their passengers safely abandoned ship. The SAR coordinating centers of Ecuador, Peru and the United States Coast Guard launched a joint response to find the survivors. Two Ecuadorian Navy ships, one Colombian military aircraft, and two civilian good samaritan vessels joined the effort.

Isla Santa Cruz (Ecuadorian Navy file image)

The good samaritan fishing vessel Amaslis found the 15 survivors in the early hours of May 27. All were in good health, and they were safely rescued by the Ecuadorian Navy coast guard vessel Isla Isabela. The drug bales were also retained and brought to shore as evidence. 

The three suspects have been handed over for prosecution, and the authorities are investigating the cause of the unusual sinking.