Four Guyanese and a Ghanaian have pleaded guilty to charges related to the seizure of a ship carrying tens of millions of dollars' worth of cocaine, according to a senior legal official in Ghana.

The five men were charged by a High Court judge on Friday with offences including engaging in a criminal conspiracy and transportation of narcotics without authority, the official, who was in court, said.

"The case was adjourned for three weeks because the full results of the substance [tests] have not been brought back from the laboratory," the official said.

Ghanaian authorities impounded the Guyana-registered MV Atiyah on Tuesday and arrested the five when they discovered it was carrying 400kg of cocaine worth around $50m, according to a statement by the Ghana Narcotics Control Board (NACOB). 

The men, who were remanded in custody, told the court they could not afford a lawyer, the legal official said.

The vessel was monitored at sea and detained by anti-narcotics officers working with the Ghana navy once it entered territorial waters, NACOB said, without giving further details.

In recent years, Latin American drug cartels have increasingly used West Africa's weak coastal states, including Ghana, as transit points for drugs being smuggled to the lucrative European market.

Source: Reuters