Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Navy ship in £4m cocaine seizure

Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox paid tribute to Royal Navy personnel involved in the seizure

A Royal Navy destroyer intercepted a yacht carrying £4 million worth of cocaine, it was revealed.

HMS Gloucester was called in to assist a law enforcement team from Cape Verde in the mid-Atlantic in the early hours of Friday.

The suspect yacht, called the Tortuga and registered in Florida, was taken to Cape Verde where authorities discovered the drugs hidden in the rudder, according to the Royal Navy.

The operation was coordinated by the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (Narcotics) (MAOC(N)) based in Lisbon, acting on French intelligence.

HMS Gloucester was diverted to assist while heading south to the Falklands, where she will spend the next seven months.

The ship's Commanding Officer, Commander David George, said: "The last thing a drug smuggler wants to be seeing as the sun comes up is a Royal Navy warship bearing down on him. He can't run and he can't fight.

"HMS Gloucester provided the ideal launching pad for the Cape Verde law enforcement team to intercept these drugs. It's fast, has long-range detection radar, and one of the fastest helicopters in the world, the Lynx Mk 8. There was no argument.

"Thanks to close co-operation between the Cape Verde authorities, international counter-narcotics agencies and the Royal Navy, millions of pounds' worth of cocaine has been stopped from reaching our streets."

Conor Shields, a Serious Organised Crime Agency officer seconded to MAOC(N) as head of the Joint Operations Co-ordination Centre, said: "It is with these collaborative, concerted efforts against common objectives we continue to target the organised crime groups which cause so much harm to our communities".

Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said: "The Royal Navy plays a crucial role in intercepting drugs that could be destined for Britain's streets. I am very proud of their efforts."

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