July 31, 2019
How to compete in catching packets of cocaine
“In the stormy night of 2001, a lot of cocaine bags were brought to the shore of the island of San Miguel. The inhabitants of the island fished them out of the water, which had dramatic consequences,” writes the German magazine Der Spiegel.
In life on the island of San Miguel, part of the Azores archipelago, there was little interesting, says the author of the article Arne Molfenter. Until in June 2001, a white sailing yacht headed for a secluded volcanic island. The cargo on board the ship was destined to change the life of 7.5 thousand islanders – at least 500 kg of cocaine were transported on a yacht.
On the ship heading to the Spanish coast, the steering wheel broke, and the man on board had no choice but to repair the boat in the port of San Miguel. However, approaching with hundreds of cocaine packs was too risky, and the shipmaster, who allegedly was alone on board, threw some bags into the sea, and most of them placed rocks near the small fishing village of Rabu de Peixa near a small ledge. "Later, João Soares, then chief investigator of the Portuguese police, reported that the cocaine bags were tied to fishing nets and chains in the bay and additionally secured with an anchor," the article says.
The storm intensified, and soon some inhabitants of Rabu de Peixa noticed strange packages moving in the troubled sea in the direction of the pier. “According to witnesses, that night dozens of people, from teenagers to grandmothers, ventured to go to the dangerous pier to catch the packages,” wrote the Spanish newspaper El País.
For several days, San Miguel was literally flooded with cocaine. “Local police could not cope. They were able to seize 400 kg of cocaine and reported that there was a maximum of 500 kg of drug on board the yacht. An absurd statement, wrote Nuno Mendez in the newspaper El País.” This boat could carry up to 3 thousand kg. And no one crosses the Atlantic with only a small part of what he can load, "the journalist noted.
“The consequences were dramatic. Some residents of the usually calm island became drug dealers, but had no idea about the market value of cocaine, nor about the risks of its use.“ Numerous “businessmen” (…) in some cases sell cocaine cups and glasses (.. .) ", – reported the local English-language newspaper Portugal News a week later. Some newly-made drug dealers allegedly offered a beer glass full of cocaine for an amount similar to 20 euros," the article says.
“Rumors began to spread about the sensation of a sensation, often unsubstantiated – for example, that now old fishermen in the port bars add cocaine like sugar to their coffee in the morning. .
Unfortunately, cocaine was of high quality, and soon young people began to enter the emergency department of local clinics. According to unofficial statistics, in the first three weeks there were a lot of cases of overdose and at least 20 deaths, the newspaper reports.
The Sicilian Anthony Quintzi, the only person on board the ship, did not resist the arrest. He had four passports – for different names, the article says. On July 1, 2001, he escaped from prison, but was caught two weeks later and sent to the mainland, where he was later sentenced to 10 years in prison.
“On the island of San Miguel, they sometimes speak of Quinzi as a legend. As a measure for determining the purity of cocaine, a unit called Italian has been established here. Some inhabitants of the island are rich, they say, having discovered cafes and bars that still exist. "
According to the former head of one of the clinics, the use of cocaine by residents led to disastrous consequences. "The cancellation syndrome was so strong that people took heroin to sleep," she said in a conversation with the Canarian Weekly newspaper. The island is allegedly still forced to regularly distribute methadone.
“The Azores are still an important stopover on the path of drug smugglers from South America to Europe. In early June 2019, three men were arrested in the port of the island of Faial – 600 kg of cocaine were found on board their yacht,” Der Spiegel reports.
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