Thursday, March 23, 2006
The North Korean heroin smuggling ship Pong Su has been sunk off the NSW coast by a bomb dropped from an Royal Australian Air Force F-111 jet fighter. The 3500-tonne freighter, which was used to import 150kg of heroin into Australia, was sent to the bottom of the ocean 140km off the NSW south coast in a military exercise this morning. Australian Federal Police confirmed the ship was sunk after the RAAF completed safety checks and cleared the area. The freighter was towed out of Sydney Harbour on Tuesday, where it had been berthed since it was seized three years ago after a four-day chase by Australian soldiers, federal police and customs officers.
Pong SuThe Pong Su was intercepted off the NSW Central Coast in April 2003 after dropping off a cargo of drugs on the coast of Victoria. Earlier this month, four Pong Su officers accused of aiding and abetting the importation of heroin were acquitted and released. However, four other men involved in the operation earlier pleaded guilty and two have been jailed. The Pong Su has been costing Australian taxpayers about $2500 a day to maintain, while the taxpayer-funded defence of the four ship's officers has been estimated at up to $3 million. AFP commander Frank Prendergast said the sinking of the ship showed the police's resolve to fight drugs. "The AFP is committed to working with its partner agencies to disrupt organised importation or drugs and protect the community from the devastating effects of the illegal drug trade," he said.