The Spanish National Police have seized the largest ever cocaine haul from a sailing boat and praised international cooperation with the UK’s NCA and the USA’s DEA for their help in the successful operation.
In a statement, the Spanish police said that over 5,200 kilogrammes (11,400 lbs) of cocaine has been seized on the sailing boat in the Atlantic Ocean and three people have been arrested.
The Spanish cops said the operation was the result of cooperation between the Portuguese police and the Spanish police as well as the National Crime Agency (NCA) in the United Kingdom, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the United States, and the Anti-Narcotics Directorate of the National Police of Colombia, among others.
The police said that among the three people who have been arrested, one of them was a well-known sailor who is wanted in connection with another cocaine haul that was thwarted in March last year.
This latest operation took place after police investigations “began earlier this year into a multinational organisation allegedly dedicated to the export of vast quantities of cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela to Europe”.
The police explained: “They did this by using pleasure boats, especially yachts and sailing boats. In this investigation process, and through the information constantly exchanged by the anti-drug agencies involved, it was possible to identify not only those who carried out the storage and export of the narcotic from South America, but also those who distributed the drug from Spain and Portugal to the rest of Europe.”
The police statement revealed that the authorities knew in advance that the vessel, unnamed but which measures 23.44 metres (77 feet) long and flew a Spanish flag, was set to transport the shipment of cocaine in September to the Iberian Peninsula where it would be picked up by faster vessels that would ferry the illegal drugs ashore.
The cops explained that on 16th October, the cocaine-laden vessel was boarded by an assault team from the Portuguese Navy as well as agents from the Spanish National police and the Portuguese judiciary police.
The three suspects have not been named but the Spanish police said that they had provided false names and a false flag so as to “camouflage a criminal action”.