SOWETO, South Africa – Authorities in Mozambique say they have detained 12 Iranians caught allegedly shipping drugs off the coast of the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
The Iranian boat was intercepted last Saturday in a joint operation carried out by the Mozambican navy and the National Criminal Investigation Service (Sernic).
A spokesman for the Mozambican government said the interception occurred about 50km (31 miles) from the Mozambican coast.
Upon a peaceful and successful interception, occupants of the vessel were said to have set it on fire moments before their arrest.
Police say the fire destroyed the approximately 1.5 tons of heroin believed to be on board.
The suspects then jumped off the ship into the Mozambique Channel, three died, while 12 others were rescued by the navy.
Mozambican authorities have identified all the suspects, saying they are all of Iran’s nationality, are being detained in the provincial capital, Pemba.
According to local media reports, the arrest is based on intelligence gathered from various agencies involved in fighting against drug trafficking.