The Slatest

Panama Searches North Korean Ship for Drugs, Finds Suspected Weapons Instead

View of North Korean vessel Chong Chong Gang at Manzanillo harbour in Colon, 90 km from Panama City on July 16, 2013.

Photo by RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea is back in the international spotlight—unintentionally this time. Reuters has the details from Panama, where authorities stopped a North Korean-flagged ship yesterday to search it for drugs:

Panama detained a North Korean-flagged ship from Cuba as it headed to the Panama Canal and said it was hiding weapons in brown sugar containers, sparking a standoff in which the ship’s captain attempted to commit suicide.

President Ricardo Martinelli said the undeclared weapons were detected inside the containers when Panamanian authorities stopped the ship, suspecting it was carrying drugs.

While the investigation of the ship’s contents is still ongoing, photos of the previously secret cargo have already surfaced and experts say they are most likely either radar equipment or missiles. The ship reportedly passed through the canal en route to Cuba on June 1 and changed cargo before heading back.