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Greek coast guard seizes 1.3 tonnes of cannabis on vessel off Crete

Crew members are seen at the prow of the fishing boat "Celine Star" with hands behind their heads as Hellenic Coast Guard Special Forces search the vessel at open sea some 60 nautical miles southeast of the island of Crete, March 2, 2018. Hellenic Coast Guard/Handout via REUTERS

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s coast guard seized about 1.3 tonnes of processed cannabis, hidden aboard a foreign flagged fishing vessel intercepted off the southern island of Crete, it said on Sunday.

The drug bust was the result of a three-day operation. Greek authorities had been informed by French customs that a suspect ship was sailing to the southeast of the island, possibly carrying illegal cargo.

The operation involved four coast guard patrol vessels and two planes, one belonging to Frontex - the European border and coast guard agency. The suspect fishing boat “Celine Star” was spotted by the Frontex aircraft about 60 nautical miles southeast off Crete.

The fishing boat, which had sailed from Syria towards an undisclosed European port, attempted to flee unsuccessfully and was escorted to the port of Ierapetra in Crete, where checks revealed the load of cannabis, worth about 15 million euros ($18.5 million).

Its captain and four-member crew were arrested, the Greek coastguard said.

($1 = 0.8119 euros)

Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Keith Weir