22 December 2023

Scottish skipper among three arrested as £96m of cocaine seized on boat

22 December 2023

Three people including a Scottish skipper have been arrested after cocaine worth £96 million was seized from a vessel at sea.

The trio were arrested as part of an international operation against drug trafficking led by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

The NCA worked with other agencies in France and Spain to target an alleged drug trafficking group who were suspected of shipping the class A substance to Europe.

The operation led to the interception of a Spanish-registered yacht, found around 1,200 miles east of Martinique, an island that is part of the French West Indies.

The boat was intercepted by a French navy frigate on December 18.

Officers then recovered around 40 bales of cocaine which weighed roughly 1.2 tonnes.

The NCA said the estimated street value was around £96 million if it were to be mixed with other substances before being sold.

All three crew members were arrested, including a 29-year-old man from Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, and taken to Martinique to face charges.

The operation later led to the arrest of five other people by Spanish authorities in Marbella and Valencia.

They include a 62-year-old man, originally from Lincolnshire, and his 24-year-old son. Both are now residents in Spain.

They were detained by Policia Nacional at a restaurant in Marbella on December 19.

All five remain in custody as the investigation continues.

Officers from the NCA’s international network joined forces with Spanish Policia Nacional, French customs, the French Navy and the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre Narcotics (MAOC-N) in Lisbon, Portugal.

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.”

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