Cocaine: Five tonnes worth around £200m seized in operation spearheaded by National Crime Agency

Seized Cocaine
Seized Cocaine

The 5.2 tonne haul was the result of an intelligence-led international operation coordinated through the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre in Lisbon.

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More than five tonnes of cocaine have been seized in one of Europe’s biggest drug hauls in recent years.

The UK National Crime Agency helped coordinate the operation to intercept a yacht off Portugal.

The NCA has estimated the drug’s street value at more than 200 million euros.

A significant proportion of the drugs intercepted were destined for the streets of UK towns and cities.

The 5.2 tonne haul was the result of an intelligence-led international operation coordinated through the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre in Lisbon.

The NCA’s International Liaison Officer network and officers from the Agency’s Maritime, Aviation and Military Intervention Cell helped lead the operation.

The Lisbon based analysis and operations centre profiles and monitors sailing vessels likely to be involved in cocaine trafficking.

The 79-foot sailing yacht G Siro was intercepted by the Portuguese Navy approximately 200 nautical miles South West off the coast of Portugal on Saturday.

The vessel taken to a naval base in Lisbon. Three men on board have been arrested by the Portuguese Police and remain in custody.

Cocaine below decks
Cocaine below decks

Director of Investigations at the NCA Nikki Holland said:

“Intercepting this vessel required international cooperation, and the NCA played a key role in sharing information with our law enforcement partners.

“This is a huge haul of class A drugs, and whilst the end destination is unclear at this stage, there is no doubt some would have ended up in the UK.”

The NCA said the loss of the profit that would have been made from the Portugal yacht seizure will be a “significant hit” to the international criminal networks involved.

Nikki Holland said: “It is a high priority for the NCA to build on the successes we have had in source countries and along the drugs supply routes, so that organised crime groups land fewer drugs in our towns and cities and prevent them being distributed by street level dealers.”

Seized boat
Seized boat

The National Crime Agency works closely with law enforcement agency across the UK and abroad, to disrupt organised crime groups, particularly those who deal in drugs.

There are currently more than 300 NCA-led investigations ongoing into class A drugs, both in the UK and overseas.

An agency spokesman said that in recent weeks, the NCA has contributed to international action resulting in the seizure of nearly seven tonnes of cocaine, the destruction of two cocaine labs capable of producing five tonnes a month and the destruction of a heroin lab.