Turkish security forces have detained 10 foreigners aboard a Bolivian-flagged vessel off the coast of Libya, police said Wednesday.
The vessel was seized in international waters late Tuesday and the security forces recovered 13 tons of illicit drugs from it.
According to the anti-narcotics police department, the detained suspects and the vessel are on their way to Turkey and prosecutors are launching a probe.
During the operation, security forces captured 13.6 tons of marijuana in powder form, reportedly planned to be distributed to European countries, the police said.
They said the operation was successful despite bad weather conditions in the Mediterranean Sea.
The police said the vessel’s power was shut down and communication channels deactivated ahead of the operation to prevent outside contact.
Pulled by a tugboat, the vessel will be taken to southern Mersin port or to Marmaris port in the southwest, said the police.
According to Turkey’s Interior Ministry, the haul of marijuana was found during an air-supported operation in northeast of Tobruk late on Tuesday.
The ministry said the Turkish Security Directorate’s anti-narcotics unit received information on the Bolivian-flagged ship and contacted the Turkish Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard determined the location of the ship on Jan. 3 and began pursuit with a plane and a vessel.
The operation was authorized by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry in cooperation with the Bolivian government and in line with UN treaties on drug trafficking.
The Interior Ministry said it was Turkey’s first security operation in international waters. Ministry officials also said the 13 tons of marijuana was the biggest amount of illegal narcotics seized in a single operation.