A North Korean flagged ship was seized by Panamanian authorities for allegedly transporting missiles from Cuba, according to a Monday radio interview with president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli.
Panamanian officials searched the merchant vessel Chong Chon Gang on Friday and uncovered the alleged missile components.
“We had suspected this ship, which was coming from Cuba and headed to North Korea, might have drugs aboard so it was brought into port for search and inspection,” Martinelli said.
“When we started to unload the shipment of sugar we located containers that we believe to be sophisticated missile equipment, and that is not allowed,” Martinelli said.
Martinelli tweeted a picture of the alleged equipment on Monday.
He said the ship’s captain attempted to commit suicide and the ship’s crew attempted to resist Panamanian authorities.
The merchant ship “aroused suspicion by the violent reaction of the captain and the crew from Friday afternoon,” Panama’s Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino said during the radio interview.
According to press reports, the ship has been sidelined at Panama’s Manzanillo container port pending further investigation.