ATHENS, Greece — A rescue operation in the eastern Aegean Sea has turned into a big marijuana bust.

A Greek coast guard statement says a Turkish-flagged wooden sailboat that issued a distress call near the island of Nisyros was found to be carrying around 700 kilograms (1,500 pounds) of marijuana. The three Turkish nationals on board were arrested.

The yacht’s crew radioed for help late Thursday, citing engine failure. Greek authorities sent a coast guard launch to look for the vessel. A freighter that had been diverted to help located the sailboat.

The statement says the yacht was towed to Nisyros, where a search early Friday turned up the marijuana cargo.

It was not immediately clear where the yacht had been heading.

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