Panama to Send North Korean Sailors Home

Ship and crew had been detained after weapons smuggling scandal

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Carlos Jasso / Reuters

A worker stands next to bags labeled "Cuban Raw Sugar" are seen inside a North Korean flagged ship "Chong Chon Gang" docked at the Manzanillo Container Terminal in Colon City July 16, 2013.

Three months after a North Korean ship was found smuggling military-grade arms from Cuba, the vessel and its crew are set to return home.

In July, Panamanian officials impounded the North Korean craft as it tried to enter the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal. The ship was found to be trafficking two jet fighters, MIG engines and anti-aircraft missiles, hidden under 10,000 tons of raw sugar.

According to a Reuters report, the captain attempted suicide after the ship was detained and the crew refused opportunities to contact their families. “Their families in North Korea must think they sunk with the boat,” the news agency quotes a Panamanian official as saying.