Trinidad will buy nine new coast guard boats to boost efforts to stem the flow of illegal drugs and weapons to the Caribbean island. Trinidad's Coast Guard is scheduled to receive the three offshore patrol vessels and six coastal patrol vessels by December 2005. The vessels will be able to carry a helicopter and go-fast boats used in drug interdiction.
The announcement came a week after authorities seized 1.75 tons (1.59 metric tons) of cocaine on Monos Island, off Trinidad's northwest coast, in the country's largest ever drug haul. Seven men have been charged in the seizure - five Venezuelans, two Trinidadians and an Antiguan.
Coast Guard officials have also seized 45 kilograms (100 pounds) of marijuana and 12 kilograms (26 pounds) of heroin this year. Trinidad, a former British colony 1.2 million, is a key transit point for South American cocaine - mostly from Colombia - destined for the United States and Europe. Trinidad is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) off the coast of Venezuela, which shares a porous border with Colombia, AP reports.
The Ilyushin 20 (Il-20) military electronic reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian Air Force with 14 servicemen on board that went off radar screens off the coast of Syria was shot down by Syrian air defense systems over the Mediterranean Sea