U.K. Warship and U.S. Aircraft Combine Efforts to Achieve a Substantial Drug Seizure After a High-speed Pursuit

A British warship and an American patrol plane pursued down a speedboat as its crew attempted to leave and dump its narcotic cargo into the water near the US Virgin Islands, according to officials on Monday.

British sailors aboard HMS Trent and a US Coast Guard crew eventually stopped the alleged drug-smuggling boat and recovered around 6,000 pounds of cocaine and other drugs, according to a news statement from the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence. The narcotics had a street worth of approximately $280 million.

“During a high-speed chase, the smugglers tried to offload their illegal cargo, but Royal Marines coxswains and the USCG boarding team closed in, took control of the vessel, and detained four crew members,” the ministry said in a statement.

After intercepting the boat, the HMS Trent crew explored 24 square miles of the Caribbean Sea south of the U.S. Virgin Islands for 10 hours, recovering about 2,000 pounds of cocaine, officials said. The bust occurred barely three weeks after HMS Trent captured $90 million in cocaine in a separate operation in January.

According to a Royal Marine who participated in the most recent seizure, the action pushed the crew to their vessels’ limits.

“Despite their best efforts to evade us, they eventually gave up the chase, and we were able to get alongside and allow members of the United States Coast Guard to seize the vessel,” said the Marine, who could not be identified for operational reasons.

In a statement, Commanding Officer Tim Langford congratulated the British crew and the US Coast Guard team on their successful bust.

“The achievements of this ship and her crew in the last nine months have been spectacular, and it is brilliant to see the hard work and dedication of this amazing team paying off,” Mr. Langford remarked. “The team is rightly proud of their efforts, and those of our USCG colleagues.”

Officials did not say when the seizure occurred or where the alleged drugs came from, but many narcotics smuggled in the Caribbean Sea originate in South America, particularly Colombia, which produces over 60% of the cocaine found worldwide.

Last month, the Colombian navy confiscated more than 1.3 million tons of cocaine from boats in three different operations in the Caribbean Sea. Officials say the crew of one of the suspected vessels abandoned ship when they saw authorities approaching.

In addition to speedboats, semi-submersibles, sometimes known as “narco subs,” are popular among drug traffickers in the Caribbean because they might potentially avoid detection by authorities. The ships never entirely submerge, and they are occasionally intercepted while traveling to the United States, Central America, and Europe.


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