Yacht carrying £160m of cocaine intercepted off coast of Devon

By Ella Glover
National Crime Agency NCA / https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/more-than-two-tonnes-of-cocaine-seized-and-six-arrested-after-swoop-on-luxury-yacht

A luxury yacht carrying around £160m worth of cocaine has been intercepted 80 miles off the coast of Devon.

In an operation led by the National Crime Agency (NCA), six men - one from Stockton on Tees, County Durham and five from Nicaragua - have been arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking.

The operation took place Thursday evening and was supported by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Border Force, demonstrating the “strength of the NCA’s international partnerships,” the agency said in a statement.

The AFP used evidence from their Operation Ironside, the country’s investigation into the AnOm encrypted comms platform, to assist with the operation.

The suspects, aged between 24 and 49, were sailing from the Caribbean when they were intercepted and escorted back to the UK mainland.

The suspects, aged between 24 and 49, were sailing from the Caribbean aboard the Kahu when they were intercepted and escorted back to the UK mainland (National Crime Agency (NCA))

A deep rummage search found two-tonnes of cocaine aboard the boat, the NCA said.

Matt Horne, NCA deputy director, said the success of the operation will “smash a hole” in the Organised Crime Group’s (OCG) operation, due to a loss of money and “trusted offenders”.

Mr Horne said: “This is a massive haul of cocaine with an estimated street value of around £160m.

“There’s no doubt these drugs would have been sold on into communities across the UK in such ways as County Lines fuelling more crime and misery.

“Organised crime groups are motivated by money. The deprivation of these drugs will smash a hole in the OCG’s plans and ability to operate.

“Also, the arrests of the men transporting the drugs means the crime group has lost trusted offenders who would have been key to their operation.

“We continue to work with partners at home such as Border Force and those abroad such as the AFP to protect the public from the Class A drugs threat.”

AFP Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale, said: “Intelligence from Operation Ironside had enabled the AFP to assist international enforcement partners in disrupting an alleged sophisticated criminal network.

“Operation Ironside has opened the door to unprecedented collaboration across law enforcement agencies around the globe.

“This result highlights the importance of the AFP’s partnership with the NCA to combat offshore transnational organised crime that impacts both of our countries.

“The AFP and NCA have a strong, historic relationship and both agencies recognise the significant threat to national security posed by transnational organised crime.”

AFP Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale, said: “Intelligence from Operation Ironside had enabled the AFP to assist international enforcement partners in disrupting an alleged sophisticated criminal network.

“Operation Ironside has opened the door to unprecedented collaboration across law enforcement agencies around the globe.

“This result highlights the importance of the AFP’s partnership with the NCA to combat offshore transnational organised crime that impacts both of our countries.

“The AFP and NCA have a strong, historic relationship and both agencies recognise the significant threat to national security posed by transnational organised crime.”


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