Three British nationals have been arrested as part of an international operation against drug trafficking across the Atlantic, which has seen around 1.2 tonnes of cocaine seized from a boat.
National Crime Agency officers worked with counterparts in France and Spain to target a crime group suspected of shipping cocaine to Europe.
The operation led to the interception of a Spanish-registered yacht around 1,200 miles east of Martinique by a French navy frigate on 18 December.
On board, officers recovered around 40 bales of cocaine weighing around 1.2 tonnes, which would have had a UK estimated street value of around £96 million once adulterated.
The three crew members were arrested, including the 29-year-old from Stornoway in Scotland who was skippering the vessel, and they have all been taken to Martinique to face criminal charges.
Following the interception, Spanish authorities in Marbella and Valencia moved in to arrest five further people suspected of involvement in the shipment.
They included a 62-year-old British national, originally from Lincolnshire but now resident in Spain, and his 24-year-old son. They were detained by the Policia Nacional as they sat down at a restaurant in Marbella on 19 December. All five remain in custody as investigations continue.
The operation saw officers from the NCA’s international network working alongside the Spanish Policia Nacional, French customs (DNRED), the French Navy and the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre Narcotics (MAOC-N) in Lisbon.
The NCA’s International Liaison Officer in Madrid, Paul Owen, said:
“This multi-national operation has seen a huge consignment of cocaine prevented from reaching Europe, and huge profits denied to organised criminals.
I have no doubt that some of these drugs were destined for the UK.
“Tackling these global networks requires international law enforcement co-operation, and I’m grateful to our partners in France, Spain, the Caribbean and MAOC-N for their assistance.
“Working together we are determined to do all we can to target, disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking groups, and prevent them from fuelling violence, intimidation and decay in UK communities.”
22 December 2023