The Iranian captain of a bulker involved in Ireland’s biggest drug seizure has appeared in court after being injured in what police said was an attempt to resist arrest.
Cocaine weighing 2.25 tonnes and worth $165m was discovered wrapped in black plastic on the 50,900-dwt Matthew (built 2001) off Wexford in the southeast of the country at the end of September.
Warning shots were fired after the vessel failed to respond to requests to halt. Irish military personnel eventually rappelled onto the deck and took control.
Master Soheil Jelveh, 50, appeared before Wexford district court on Monday morning, charged with being in possession of cocaine for the purpose of selling or supplying it, as well as importing the drug.
Police said Jelveh was airlifted from the ship on 25 September after they received reports that someone on board was injured.
He was transferred to Waterford Hospital, where he was searched by police officers.
They found mobile phones, including a satellite phone, documents and $53,000 in cash, according to the Breaking News website.
The accused indicated that this cash was his wages.
The police believed Jelveh was trying to evade arrest.
They said he was “caught red-handed”.
Police objected to a bail application from Jelveh’s solicitor, Lana Doherty, because it was believed he would flee the country.
Judge John Cheatle rejected bail. He said: “The allegations against the defendant are so serious and his links to the jurisdiction are so tenuous it renders bail impossible, in my mind, in this situation.”
Jelveh was remanded in custody to appear again via video link on 9 October.
Irish police told TradeWinds they would not be commenting further on any aspect of the case.
Two other men had already appeared in court after being charged.
Jamie Harbron, 31, of England, and Ukrainian national Vitaliy Lapa, 60, of no fixed abode, face conspiracy charges.
There was no application for bail.
Seven arrests were made after the incident, but only four people remain in custody.
AIS data showed the vessel still docked in Cork on Tuesday.
Listed owner Matthew Maritime’s website describes the company as “a leading bulk carrier shipowner”.
It claims to have overseen 1,216 voyages and has a “strong industry legacy.” No other ships are listed in its fleet.
The company is registered on Ajeltake Island in the Marshall Islands.
It has not responded to a request for comment.
The Oshima-built bulker is a former Norden, Elmira Tankers and Eagle Bulk Shipping vessel, listed as classed by ClassNK in Japan.
VesselsValue reported the supramax sold to Cosco Wallem by Aksoy Denizcilik of Turkey in 2019 for $6.7m.
However, Cosco Wallem told TradeWinds it is a third-party ship manager and does not own vessels.
VesselsValue assesses the ship as worth $7m. It was acquired by Matthew Maritime in the summer as the Honmon.
Insurer not known
Databases list the ship as insured through the London P&I Club.
But underwriting director Reto Toggwiler told TradeWinds: “We don’t have the vessel entered with us. I have checked some databases that we use and they don’t show any current International Group P&I Club as being involved, so suspect that she will be covered in the commercial market.”
UK shipbroker Clarksons lists the operator as Symphony Marine for Shipmanagement & Operation Co in Dubai.
The company did not respond to a request for comment.