Pair jailed for cocaine smuggle bid
Two men who tried to sail a yacht to the UK with a quarter of a tonne of cocaine on board have been jailed.
David Romano, 57, and Michael Ashford, 42, both from Jersey, were arrested in the Caribbean as part of a joint operation involving the National Crime Agency (NCA), Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and French authorities.
Romano and Ashford were sentenced in a court in Fort-de-France, Martinique, to 10 and seven years in prison respectively, the NCA said.
French customs officials boarded the men's yacht as it set sail from Martinique on November 3 last year.
On board they found some 550lb (250kg) of high-purity cocaine with an estimated UK street value of around £40 million.
The interception was prompted by an NCA-MPS investigation into a London-based organised crime group believed to be involved in the large-scale importation of drugs to the UK, the NCA said, and l aw enforcement partners in Venezuela, the Eastern Caribbean, Jamaica and the USA helped track the yacht.
"Had we not intervened, these drugs would have ended up being sold on the streets of London," said Hank Cole, the NCA's head of international operations.
"Drug trafficking is an international issue so our response has to be the same, co-operating with law enforcement colleagues across the globe."