Record drug haul Bust nets 914 pounds of cocaine Largest amount of drugs seized from a ship here ByJOELKIRKPATRICK The Daily News • . . GALVESTON — In the largest shipboard cocaine seizure ever made at the Port of Galveston, U.S. Customs agents grabbed 914 pounds of the illegal drug from a banana boat at Pier 16 Tuesday and began began a series of arrests that ended early Wednesday. The cocaine seized has an estimated value of more than $41 million, U.S. Customs Resident Agent in Charge Cliff Wolfe said at' a Wednesday morning press conference. "The seizure is the largest cocaine bust made by the U.S. Customs Service from a commercial vessel in the Houston-Galveston area," Wolfe said. The customs seizure led to a total of 12" arrests, and also netted a 1981 automobile and five .38 caliber revolvers. All 12 suspects were being held in the Galveston Galveston County Jail. A preliminary hearing for the 12 arrested will be held before U.S. Magistrate Charles B. Smith 10 a.m. today in Galveston. The cocaine and six Colombian stowaways were hidden in the rudder compartment of the Panamanian-flagged Panamanian-flagged Spring Bride banana boat, which sailed Friday from Turbo, Colombia. The compartment is approximately 10 feet by 20 feet, with a 3V 3 -foot hole in it through which the rudder post passes, and is located located at the stern of the ship. The compartment is welded shut and inaccessible from the inside of the ship, but is open to the sea. Just below the opening is the ship's 10-foot propeller. The rudder post hole was the way in and the way out for the drugs and the stowaways. Wolfe said the stowaways went into the compartment compartment with food and water, but the propeller drove water up into the compartment and soon spoiled their food. Five Colombian nationa'ls were arrested shortly after noon Tuesday when they jumped into the water at the stern of the ship. Another suspect reportedly stayed in the water for See BUST, 15-A U.S. Customs Special Agent in Charge Steven Hooper and Galveston County Sheriff Joe Max Taylor scoop out a por- Stafl photo by Robert W. Rizzo tion of the estimated $41 million worth of cocaine seized Tuesday from a banana banana ship in Galveston.