Notorious drug smuggling ship towed to Seattle for scrapping
SEATTLE - A freighter seized off the coast of Washington state nearly four decades ago in one of the largest marijuana busts in the region's history was moved to Seattle on Thursday and will eventually be scrapped, local officials said.
The drug smuggling ship made national headlines when it was seized by the Coast Guard in 1978 with 37 tons of marijuana on board. At the time, it was the biggest maritime pot bust in West Coast history.
The vessel eventually made it to auction and changed hands among private owners several times before being purchased by a Tacoma man who docked the rusting, aging structure in the city's Hylebos Waterway, Redling said.
In 2013, the Helena Star sank, spilling 640 gallons of oil and diesel gasoline into the waterway and taking down another vessel next to it. The owner of the ship, Stephen Mason, has been charged with abandoning a vessel and polluting state waterways. He faces up to a year in jail if convicted.
The ship must dry out and undergo inspection before it is scrapped, Redling said. The sale of the scrap, estimated to bring in about $1 million, was unlikely to cover the price tag of recovery and demolition, he said.