An Angry Seal Thwarted An International Drug Smuggling Ring, Australian Officials Say

'The guys basically had the choice of going through the seal or getting arrested and they ended up choosing getting arrested,' said an official.

a seal baring his teeth is pictured
manfredrichter / Pixabay

'The guys basically had the choice of going through the seal or getting arrested and they ended up choosing getting arrested,' said an official.

A group of alleged international drug dealers, attempting to bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of contraband into Australia, were stymied by an angry seal, BBC News reports. Faced with the choice of taking their chances with the teeth-baring mammal or going to jail, the purported crooks chose jail.

It seems that a Frenchman and a Briton, Antoine Dicenta, 51, and Graham Palmer, 34, respectively, were allegedly attempting to smuggle drugs valued at $688,000 Australian (about $473,000 U.S.) into the Land Down Under when their yacht ran aground. The men and their cargo — which allegedly included cocaine, ecstasy, and methamphetamine — were able to escape into a life raft, hiding the drugs on the seaweed. They then took refuge on Burton Island, a small spit of land covered in scrub not far from Perth.

The men spent some time on the island before realizing that they’d been found, at which time they tried to make their escape. However, according to Damien Healy, Geraldton Volunteer Marine Rescue Service vice-commander, a “big, huge seal” had other plans.

“They woke it up and it jumped up with its big chest out and bellowed at them,” Healy said.

Faced with the choice of either taking their chances with an angry marine mammal or getting arrested, the men chose arrest. They were all taken into custody.

a seal baring its teeth
  manfredrichter / Pixabay

Seal attacks on humans are rare but not unheard-of. The animals, particularly the males, especially during mating season, can be aggressive and territorial. In rare cases, seal attacks have proved fatal. For example, in 2003, as National Geographic reports, a leopard seal attacked and killed a scientist working in Antarctica.

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Back in Australia, three other men have also been arrested in connection with this alleged crime. Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said that three other suspects –Jason Lassiter, 45, a Briton; Scott Felix Jones, 35, an American; and Angus Bruce Jackson, 50, an Australian — were acting as the “shore party” that was to receive the contraband.

Western Australia is an attractive target for drug smugglers thanks to the sparse population and wide-open stretches of coastline, according to this Inquisitr report. International drug-trafficking operations, described by an official as “very well organized, very sophisticated,” smuggle tons of drugs into the country every year. And Australians, particularly in the poorer, rural West, are purportedly eager to purchase them, meth in particular. In an average year, Australians reportedly consume nearly eight tons of meth — more than all other illicit drugs combined.

In one western Australian town, Dwellingup, so many of the few hundred or so people who live there were addicted to meth that the town was basically “ungovernable.”