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Those Weren’t Sails in the Locker

Authorities seize 280 pounds of cocaine from one of the world’s largest tall ships.

August 15, 2014
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Juan Sebastian Elcano

The tall ship is named for an explorer who worked for Ferdinand Magellan. Scott Hallford

A Spanish Navy training vessel returned from a six-month, 18,000-nautical-mile trip with about 280 pounds of cocaine onboard, according to multiple news reports.

Spanish police seized the drugs from the_ Juan Sebastian Elcano_ after receiving a tip from U.S. authorities, who arrested several sailors now facing charges of selling cocaine from the ship during a stop in New York.

The Juan Sebastian Elcano is the third-largest tall ship in the world. Built in 1927, she is 370 feet long with four masts and a steel hull, and is named for a Spanish captain who worked for explorer Ferdinand Magellan.

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The vessel is officially part of the Spanish Navy, which makes it a military vessel. U.S. authorities said it appeared that the designation was being used as a cover for a multinational drug smuggling operation, according to multiple news reports.

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