Royal Navy sailors loading the seized cocaine onto the deck of a US Coast Guard vessel [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Stephen Johncock, Crown copyright]
A Royal Navy warship has seized £21 million worth of cocaine after Caribbean hot pursuit.
After receiving information that a suspicious-looking vessel had been spotted by a maritime patrol aircraft, HMS Argyll, which is on patrol in the region raced to intercepted it.
Argyll’s Lynx helicopter confirmed the vessel was acting in a suspicious way , and sent her sea boats to capture it. Once on board, members of a US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment and Royal Navy sailors discovered nearly 600 kilos of cocaine wrapped in bin bags.
Armed Forces Minister Mark Francois said:
The Royal Navy has a hard-earned record of tackling illegal drug smuggling and we should be extremely proud that HMS Argyll has been involved in a dramatic and very successful operation to disrupt the supply. The operation showed tenacity and professionalism.
HMS Argyll’s skipper, Commander Paul Hammond, said:
My team and I knew that a swift and correct interception was required in this case. We worked well with our international partners to give ourselves the best chance of success and I used the exceptional capabilities of a modern warship, including sea boats and the Lynx helicopter, to detain the crew and seize the drugs from the target vessel.
Operation Martillo is a 15 nation effort to deny criminal gangs air and sea access to the coastal regions of Central and Southern America with the goal of putting a stop to the illegal movement of drugs.
HMS Argyll will continue to conduct anti-drug patrols in conjunction with the US Coast Guard and others to enhance regional security and deter illicit activity.