Americans praise Royal Navy as RFA Mounts Bay helps seize £36m of cocaine in the Caribbean
ROYAL Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary sailors have dealt a huge blow to drug smugglers in the Caribbean, helping to seize a whopping 1,400kg of cocaine worth almost £36m.
RFA Mounts Bay, which is based in the region, supported US Coastguards and American law enforcement in the massive drugs bust.
The mighty Mounts Bay played a critical role in seizing the lion’s share of the drugs – 42 bales’ worth – during a raid 74 nautical miles south of St Croix, on the US Virgin Islands.
The traffickers managed to ditch 150kg of drugs in the Caribbean before they were intercepted – ensuring another £3.75m of cocaine won’t be sold.
Britain’s armed forces minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan added: ‘Thanks to the work of the Royal Navy and our US partners these narcotics will not reach the streets and fuel further criminality.
‘RFA Mounts Bay has had a varied deployment, from leading the response to Hurricane Dorian to stopping the illicit drugs trade.
‘This is a timely reminder of the diverse work undertaken by our armed forces that helps keep up safe.’
It’s the second bust in a week scored by UK naval forces; just a few days ago Portsmouth-based Type 45 detroyer HMS Defender captured £1m of cannabis from a dhow on the Hash Highway in the Middle East.
Mounts Bay has been on counter-drugs patrols since the beginning of the year.
Aboard the support ship is a specialist board-and-search team of US Coastguard personnel – the Law Enforcement Detachment – and their MH65 helicopter.
That helicopter was on a patrol when it came across a ‘go-fast’ craft – typical of those used by smugglers in the region.
Mounts Bay changed course to intercept and once within close range, sent the Coastguard detachment across to stop the craft and seize its cargo.
The boarding team found 44 large bales of cocaine – and learned from the five-strong crew that they had succeeded in jettisoning 150kg, about one tenth of their cargo, before they were halted in the tracks.
Also intercepted was a second go-fast carrying oil drums and pumps to transfer fuel to the first boat, as well as two crew.
All seven prisoners and the drugs haul were transferred to Mounts Bay – where the latter were weighed, tested and recorded as evidence.
‘The “Bay team” has dealt another big blow against drug traffickers – £40m of drugs will never plague the streets and ruin lives thanks to our efforts. Everyone aboard Mounts Bay has a right to feel proud of the part they played in the bust,” said Captain Kevin Rimell RFA, Mounts Bay’s commanding officer.
The detainees and drugs were later handed over to the US Coast Guard for authorities in the USA to consider prosecution.
Former British defence secretary and Portsmouth North MP, Penny Mordaunt, said Mounts Bay’s effort were critical in disrupting the global drugs trade.
She’s being replaced by new patrol ship HMS Medway which will be permanently stationed in the Caribbean.