Weapons-Laden North Korean Ship Seized

Captain attempts suicide after Panama search

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 16, 2013 3:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – For North Korean weapons smugglers, death is apparently preferable to failure. Panamanian authorities say the captain of a North Korean-flagged ship tried to kill himself after military equipment was found concealed in containers of brown sugar, CNN reports. The ship, which had sailed from Cuba, was stopped on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal after authorities received intelligence that drugs were on board. They found the undeclared weapons instead.

Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli says the ship was carrying suspected "sophisticated missile equipment" and a United Nations team will be asked to inspect the cargo, reports the BBC. "We're going to keep unloading the ship and figure out exactly what was inside," he says. "You cannot go around shipping undeclared weapons of war through the Panama Canal." The 35-member crew was arrested after a struggle with authorities, who say the "violent reaction of the captain and the crew" to the search aroused their suspicions.

President Martinelli released this photo of the weaponry found hidden in a cargo of brown sugar.
President Martinelli released this photo of the weaponry found hidden in a cargo of brown sugar.   (Panamanian President)
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