A yacht carrying more than two tonnes of cocaine to Europe has been intercepted in the Caribbean, in a joint operation involving the National Crime Agency working alongside French and Spanish partners.
The SY Silandra was boarded by officers from the French Customs Coastguard 125 miles off Martinique on Wednesday 15 April. The vessel was about to begin a trans-Atlantic crossing.
The seizure was the result of a major investigation lasting many months involving the NCA, French, Spanish and Grenadian authorities.
The three crew members – two Spanish and one Venezuelan – were arrested and are now in custody on Martinique.
The boat was stuffed with 80 bales of cocaine weighing a total of 2.2 tonnes. It is believed to be one of the biggest ever seizures made by the French authorities.
If cut and sold in the UK the haul would have had a likely potential street value in excess of £300 million.
Steve Reynolds, head of international operations for the National Crime Agency, said: ‘This was a huge seizure and represents a major blow to the organised crime groups involved in shipping class A drugs from South America and the Caribbean to Europe.
‘Our network of officers overseas played a crucial role in this operation. It is highly likely that at least some of these drugs would have ended up being sold on the streets of the UK.’
The seizure is the latest involving the NCA to take place in the region.
In November 2014 a UK-bound yacht carrying an estimated 250 kilos of cocaine was seized off Martinique, in another joint operation. Two men from Jersey were later jailed for a total of 17 years.
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The NCA works in close coordination on matters of maritime security with the UK’s National Maritime Information Centre (NMIC) and the European Maritime Analysis Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N) in Lisbon, Portugal.