Navy intercepts £58m of illegal drugs in double bust
A Westcountry helicopter crew has played a vital role in the seizure cannabis and cocaine with a street value of £58 million in two busts just days apart.
The seizure of 400kg of cocaine and almost 1.2 tonnes of marijuana in the separate incidents has been praised as another "fantastic success" by the Royal Navy warship HMS Lancaster, which is deployed in the Caribbean.
It is the fourth major drugs bust in as many weeks and the sixth so far during her deployment.
In the most recent bust, the warship's Yeovil-stationed Lynx helicopter chased a fast-moving speedboat, disabling it, and collected 17 packages of cocaine that had been dumped in the water.
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And just days before, sailors on the Portsmouth-based warship recovered marijuana weighing almost 1.2 tonnes after they were ditched by a speedboat in the middle of a violent thunderstorm.
Announcing the latest success, the Royal Navy said at a wholesale price the cocaine would be worth just over £17m and the cannabis around £1.1m – but at street level the values would be much higher, nearer £58m.
Armed Forces Minister Mark Francois said: "This is another fantastic success for the ship's company, their constant hard work and professionalism is a great international advert for the Royal Navy and our country."
In the most recent incident, which happened at the start of the month, the ship was alerted to suspected traffickers by a Canadian tanker which had spotted a speedboat in the Western Caribbean.
HMS Lancaster launched its Lynx helicopter – of 815 Naval Air Squadron, based in Yeovilton, Somerset – to pursue the boat, prompting the suspected drug runners to dump the drugs overboard.