Yacht sailed from Caribbean to Ireland with more than £100million-worth of cocaine

An estimated one tonne of cocaine has been seized as part of an operation involving the Irish, French and Venezuelan authorities and National Crime Agency (NCA).

The class A drug discovered on the 62ft (18.9m) yacht Makayabella, crewed by three Britons, is estimated to have had a street value of more than £100million.

Acting on intelligence provided by the NCA and French Customs DNRED, and in coordination with the UK’s National Maritime Information Centre and Maritime Analysis and Operations
Centre (MAOC) in Lisbon, the Irish Naval Service intercepted the yacht Makayabella around 300 miles off the south west coast of Ireland on Tuesday.

A search of the vessel, which had sailed from the Caribbean, is ongoing.

Three men on board, all British nationals, from the West Yorkshire area, were detained and taken to the Irish mainland for questioning by An Garda Síochána.

Meanwhile NCA officers, assisted by West Yorkshire Police, located and arrested a 43-year-old man on suspicion of conspiring to import class A drugs at an address in Leeds on Wednesday. He was later bailed pending further enquiries.

Yesterday a 47-year-old man from Leeds was arrested by the NCA and questioned
at a police station in the West Yorkshire area.

One other individual from West Yorkshire is still being sought in connection with the investigation.

Hank Cole, head of international operations for the National Crime Agency, said: ‘NCA investigators were part of the effort to identify and track the boat across the Atlantic from
the Caribbean, leading to its eventual interception off the coast of Ireland.

‘This was a large seizure and our investigation is ongoing.

‘Thanks to the co-operation between the NCA and our Irish, French and Venezuelan colleagues, we have managed to prevent this cocaine reaching our streets and causing damage to communities. I pay tribute to all those involved.’

‘Challenging conditions’

A Defence Forces Ireland spokesman said: ‘The inter-agency operation was
conducted using two naval vessels and interagency personnel, at night and in
challenging conditions between 200 and 300 miles West South West of Mizen Head.

‘After Naval Service personnel secured the vessel, members of An Garda Síochána and
Revenue’s Customs Service were transferred to the yacht and conducted a search
of the vessel, which was then escorted to an Irish port.’

Images credited to the Irish Naval Services Facebook page