JULY 16, 2013 — Panama is holding a North Korean ship, the 1977-built Chon Chon Gang, after war materials were found hidden in containers carrying a cargo of brown sugar from Cuba. A number of reports describe the seized material as missile components or missiles. This is borne out by a photograph (left) released by Panama's President Ricardo Martinelli via his Twitter account (@rmartinelli).
The ship was stopped near Manzanillo on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal on Friday. It was detained for inspection under suspicion that it was carrying drugs.
Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino said the ship aroused further suspicion because of the "violent reaction of the captain and the crew."
Reports say that the captain tried to commit suicide after the missile components were discovered.
He and the other members of the 35 man crew are under detention. The ship remains in Manzanillo as the Panamanian authorities continue to search it.