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Three held and charged after £80m cocaine haul recovered from boat

Published 20/08/2016

The NCA hailed the seizure
The NCA hailed the seizure

More than a tonne of cocaine with a street value of £80m has been recovered from a boat off the south coast of England, the National Crime Agency (NCA) has said.

Three men have been arrested and charged following the operation, which Border Force has described as "one of the most significant drug seizures ever made in the UK".

The haul was discovered on vessel Bianca, a British registered converted fishing trawler, on Thursday, in UK waters just south of Falmouth, in Cornwall.

It was seized during a joint operation involving NCA and Border Force maritime command officers, who boarded the boat and found around 50 bags suspected of containing cocaine.

The NCA said the seizure would have a "significant disruptive impact" on the supply chain.

The owner and captain of the boat, Michael McDermott, 67, an Irish national, and his crew, Dutch national Gerald Van De Kooij, 26, and Briton David Pleasants, 57, appeared at Bodmin Magistrates' Court on Saturday charged with importing cocaine.

They have been remanded in custody until their next hearing at Bristol Crown Court on September 20.

Mike Stepney, director of national operations at Border Force, said: "This is one of the most significant drugs seizures ever made in the UK and a testament to the multi-agency approach we adopt to secure the UK's border and territorial waters.

"By working closely with the NCA and our other national and international partners we were able to intercept this vessel before it could deliver its £80 million of cargo to the UK.

"This seizure is a fantastic example of the vital role our officers play in preventing drugs from reaching the UK and keeping our communities safe."

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