Royal Navy seize £160m of cocaine during two daring drugs busts in the Caribbean

THE Royal Navy has dealt a crippling blow to the global drugs trade after seizing more than £160m of drugs during two daring operations in the Caribbean.

Sunday, 4th October 2020, 11:08 am

Portsmouth-based sailors from RFA Argus were joined by Royal Marines, US Coast Guard teams and a Dutch navy ship in the drug bust which saw 1.7 tonnes of cocaine and 28kg of amphetamines captured.

The bust was the second in two days after seizing 264kg of cocaine in a separate raid in the region just 48 hours before.

James Heappey, armed forces minister said: ‘The armed forces are committed to tackling organised crime, both at home and overseas, and work with our allies around the world to help protect our people and interests.

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RFA Argus helped to seize more than £160m of drugs in a series of daring raids in the Caribbean. Photo: Royal Navy

‘The Royal Navy has once again demonstrated its professionalism and tactical operational capability in an international effort to stop illegal drug-smuggling. It is with thanks to their efforts that £160m worth of drugs will never reach the streets of the UK.’

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The first of the two recent busts came when two suspicious vessels were spotted near RFA Argus and patrol ship Groningen.

A Wildcat helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron was launched with a Royal Marine sniper team from 42 Commando on board.

Royal Marines pictured charging towards one of the ships smuggling drugs through the Caribbean. Photo: Royal Navy

Using advanced sensors and cameras, the helicopter team stopped the suspect vessels before a team made up of Royal Marines from 47 Commando, the US Coast Guard and personnel from HNLMS Groningen boarded the vessels to undertake the search.

Just two days later, RFA Argus was conducting routine training when one of its Merlin helicopters spotted a suspicious craft.

The 28,000-tonne vessel changed course to give chase and the Merlin and Wildcat helicopters worked with HNLMS Groningen to allow the US Coast Guard to intercept the craft.

The huge haul of narcotics seized by the Royal Navy-led task group. Photo: US Coast Guard

Captain Kevin Rimell, Argus’s commanding officer, said: ‘This recent interdiction is yet another example of multi-national co-operation in the Caribbean.

‘I am proud that the team of RFA Argus, utilising 815 and 845 Naval Air Squadron helicopters, boats crewed by RFA personnel and Royal Marines from 47 Commando, were able to take the lead in an operation alongside our US Coastguard and Dutch Navy colleagues.

‘Collectively we secured and apprehended a number of smugglers and a large quantity of contraband.

‘These are challenging times and we ask a lot of our people so it is encouraging to see that our training and professionalism continues to shine through.’

Last month Argus and Portsmouth-based patrol ship HMS Medway seized £81m worth of cocaine in a series of three busts in the Caribbean.

In total, the navy task group in the region has now prevented almost a quarter of a billion pounds worth of narcotics reaching the UK shores.

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