An international law enforcement operation has resulted in the seizure of close to four tonnes of cocaine from a vessel in the mid-Atlantic.
Acting on NCA intelligence, Spanish authorities intercepted the vessel – an ocean going tugboat named Thoran – on 1 October, approximately 400 miles from the Spanish coast at a point between Madeira and the Azores islands.
An extensive search resulted in the discovery of 165 individual packages of cocaine, hidden in a sophisticated concealment beneath the galley floor.
Each package contained around 23 kilos of powder, amounting to a total of approximately 3,700 kilos of cocaine seized.
While the destinations of the drugs can’t be known, if cut and sold in European countries they could have fetched over 200 million pounds.
The seven crew, six men from Turkey and one from Azerbaijan, were arrested by Spanish officers, and the Cormoros-flagged vessel towed into the Spanish port of Cadiz on the afternoon of 6 October.
The operation was jointly conducted by the NCA, Spanish Customs (DAVA), the Spanish National Police and the Spanish Civil Guard, and was coordinated by the multi-national Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N) in Lisbon.
Mark Blackwell from the NCA, said:
“Seizing this quantity of cocaine represents a major disruption to international crime groups, depriving them of revenue potentially running into the hundreds of millions of pounds.
“We’re working with colleagues in Europe and around the world to disrupt organised criminals in any way we can, and to protect UK and European borders from attempts to smuggle illegal commodities through them.”